25 Years of Evangelizing My Husband. The truth is, I was the one who needed to change

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Written by Revive our hearts. Source The Aquila Report Photo via ForFaithFamily on Facebook

One of the best parts of working at Revive Our Hearts is the mail we get each day. Emails like this. Enjoy!

The nest would soon be empty. As was our marriage.

We had our roles down pat. I was the aggressor, bordering on a plate thrower; he was the passive aggressor, master of the silent treatment. We pressed each other’s buttons with heartbreaking regularity.

Over the years I constructed a compelling case of “he did’s”—stories I relayed to accommodating girlfriends. Mind you, I did this strategically. Prayer groups were preferred. There I got head nods—even a prayer on my behalf. Please change him.

My own prayer life was all about change (meaning, him). Clearly, God was sympathetic to my cause. I was David in the Psalms unjustly treated by Saul. I was Joseph imprisoned for my faith. I was on my way to martyr status.

Why then, being so unjustly treated, so right, was I so miserable? And, for all my Bible verse quoting, why was my spiritual life so stagnant?

You see, my husband is not a believer . . . a fact I routinely brought before the Lord and prayer partners. During our twenty-five years of marriage, I had purchased countless books and CDs with titles such as BelovedUnbeliever. Yet, my daily prayer, Please change his heart, had gone unanswered.

Not, however, because of a lack of evangelism on my part. I left tracts on our coffee table and upped the volume on sermon CDs.

On Sunday mornings I would tear up. If only my husband was sitting next to me at church. If only he would thumb through a Bible. If only he could hear this sermon. From my balcony view, I would glare at the backs of other husbands, arms draped over their wives’ shoulders. Surely these husbands led nightly devotionals, volunteered at Vacation Bible School, and prayed before meals. If only . . .

Inevitably my mind would drift toward a vision, twenty-five years in the making. My husband and I would be called to the pulpit to share our story. I would smile through humble tears as he would credit me for my contagious Christianity. His testimony would highlight my years of faithfulness: attending Bible studies, teaching Sunday School, rising at 5 a.m. to seek the Lord. The applause would be deafening. Maybe we’d write a book. A video series perhaps.

Then reality would crash in. I sat alone in the pew. I taught Sunday School with strangers. My husband showed no sign of wanting to read anything remotely biblical or listen to anything remotely spiritual. Forget the book. My prayers were fruitless—my husband was not changing.

That’s when I approached Kate. She and her husband had been empty nesters for a while, and they seemed happy. Perhaps she could help.

Sitting at Panera one Saturday, Kate began her counsel, but not with the sympathetic support I had anticipated. When I began to share my story of marital hardship and martyr-like behavior, Kate interrupted. She had no interest in hearing my compelling case of “rightness.” Instead, Kate gave me a challenge.

Just that week she had found a website featuring a 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge. For thirty days a wife was not supposed to say anything negative about her husband. In addition, each day she was to verbally compliment her husband. And when in public, she was to seek opportunities to praise her husband for specific things. All this was to be done with complete sincerity and not a hint of manipulation.

As Kate explained the terms of the challenge, she admitted hers was not always the beatific marriage it appeared to be—that she, too, struggled with negativity. She felt God wanted her to do the challenge with me and suggested we meet weekly over the summer to encourage one another.

This conversation took place three years ago. Turns out, the 30-Day “Challenge” is a misnomer. It has been a joy—not a challenge—and my thirty days have stretched across months and now years.

You see, within a couple of weeks, my marriage was transformed. First, my husband, a longtime critic of my cooking, suddenly took up making gourmet meals for me. Then my husband, formally stingy with compliments, began to routinely greet me with, “Hi, Gorgeous.” Finally, my husband, a person who treasures automobiles, became my knight in shining armor when I dented—no, dismantled—our brand-new Toyota Camry in an accident directly related to my inept driving.

Here’s the secret. As I verbalized compliments, I began to notice what had gone unnoticed since our dating days. Namely, that my husband is a man of integrity, a hard worker, a gentleman, a comedian; that he is handsome, articulate, and humble. He is my technology expert, personal think-tank, dog trainer, interior decorator, problem-solver, confidante, and friend. And someone whose company I began to cherish.

Looking at the negative aspects of my marriage had only produced despair—twenty-five years of whining to God about my righteousness in journals that I have since destroyed. Even Christian therapy had been reinforcing my case of “he-did’s.”

The truth is, I was the one who needed to change.

So, if I ever get called to a pulpit to give a reason for my despair giving way to joy, I will take the microphone with a humble heart. After all, it was my negativity that impeded marital intimacy for all those years. No more. The joy I now feel at waking up next to this man rivals that of any newlywed.

Visit the Revive our Hearts website and learn more about the 30-Day Husband Encouragement Challenge here.

You Forget About God, Family When Addicted to Porn

Please don’t miss the second post, below this one, titled: How Do You Counsel A Husband Who Has Revealed a Struggle with Pornography to His Wife? (Advice for pastors on an increasingly relevant topic)

via http://www.christianpost.com (photo via Facebook)

Pornography is an unspoken word in most congregations, but this powerful addiction is permeating Christian households, and is destroying marriages and parent-child relationships.

To combat the addiction to pornography, Pastor Jay Dennis of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., created his own program, „One Million Men Porn Free,” because he wasn’t able to find resource materials that he could use to defeat the devastating effects the lure of pornography had on members of his church.

„I led our church initially through this program in March and April of 2010,” said Dennis, who leads a congregation of 9,000 members. „I met with our men for six Wednesday evening sessions, with the last session being the commitment rally. I also met with our women for one session and our parents for one session. The women’s session was called ‘What Men Wish Their Wives Knew About Pornography.’ The parents’ session was titled ‘Protecting Your Child From Sexual Brokenness.'”

Dennis hopes the „Join 1 Million Men” program will ultimately strengthen churches by helping pastors get the subject of pornography out in the open so they can work on rebuilding families and marriages.

„If the pastor is not addressing the issue, either he doesn’t feel it’s enough of a problem, or it’s too shameful to discuss in church,” said Dennis, who cites the biblical scriptures of Job 31:1, Psalm 119:37 and I Timothy 5:2 to illustrate the ways in which men should view and respect women.
Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/one-million-men-porn-free-pastor-you-forget-about-god-family-when-addicted-to-porn-90771/#cc7OQ2lz48I0RgjW.99

Every pastor already faces this. Unfortunately, I fear the problem will only become more common in the future; that is marriage counseling as a result of a husband’s struggle with pornogrpahy. The work to restore trust and intimacy within a marriage deeply affected by this sinful struggle is only possible through the gospel and applied most effectively within the local church; having said that, consider six practical ways that husband can reestablish trust and intimacy with his hurting wife:

1) Be patient towards your hurting wife.Men are known to deal with something, then move on. A wife, especially one sinned against by pornography will not move on so quickly.

2) Understand the seriousness of your sin against her. Sexual sin hurts a wife more deeply than most other sins against her. A husband needs to realize that the reasons this sin stings so much is that it seems to confirm almost every doubt and insecurity most women already battle within themselves. Understanding the seriousness of this sin and the pain it causes will help cultivate patience and prevent a reoccurrence of it.

3) Look to your wife to play an important role of accountability. It is easy to seek the accountability of another man when it comes to this struggle because, we say, “only another man knows what the battle is like.” Yet, you do not have to sleep next to that man every night. You do not have to look into his eyes knowing the hurt you caused. You do not have to be as patient and gracious with your buddy through this like you must with your wife. It may need to be in the context of regular counseling for a while, but convince him his wife will be a great asset to establish his new patterns and protection from falling again.

4) Consistently and creatively romance your wife. A husband should have already been pursuing his wife romantically as a regular practice. Now, he must understand this pattern must be established to restore his marriage.

5) Affirm your physical attraction to her. It should surprise no man that when he looks at other women in lustful ways, it will communicate a sharp message to his wife that he does not find her attractive. Most men would confess that is not what drove them to pornography, but it is inescapable that this is how a wife feels because of it. Encourage the man verbally to affirm his physical attraction to his wife. Then, he must back it up with his actions.

6) Realize the battle never ends this side of eternity. The gospel is powerful to free men from this bondage and to establish new patterns in their lives, but the fences of accountability must always remain.

Traylor & Melody – Betrayal, Divorce and then Reconciliation

I read the story of Melody & Traylor some years back, and when I started up this blog I tried to find it again in order to post it, but could not remember their names. Tonight, I came across the website again and I am providing the link to it. Traylor was a preacher who became addicted to pornography, and slowly it escalated to secret rendezvous  with women he met on the internet, which sometimes took him across state lines. But, it is no ordinary story, because after divorcing when Melody found out, he started feeling God’s conviction, which eventually led Traylor & Melody back together again, remarried and helping other couples deal with addictions through their ministry.

Please share this story with someone in your life who is struggling with pornogroaphy, and sex addiction, and especially share it with the spouse of the person with the problem, and let them know there is hope for their marriage. Here’s the snippet from the blog, and I recommend watching the 3 videos posted to the page in the link- http://www.ragamuffinreflections.com/story/ 

Melody and I were married for 11 years before my struggle with pornography and sexual addiction ripped our family apart. This tragic upheaval left both of us reeling and disrupted our status quo, to say the least. The appearance of the “perfect” life that we both worked so hard to maintain came crashing down all around us.
After 6 years of divorce, we were remarried.

Watch (or listen to) their testimony here- http://www.ragamuffinreflections.com/story/ 

The Makings of a Christian Marriage

A Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh excerpted from bible.org. Click here to read the entire article. Although somewhat lengthy, it is worth the time to read these Godly principles and apply them to our marriage. May God strengthen your marriage as you read and trust in Him! One thing that stands out to me in this study is the following phrase:

We should not assume God is more glorified by a “successful” and “happy” marriage than by one fraught with difficulties. As Paul points out in Ephesians 5, a marriage in which the husband and wife play out their respective roles obediently portrays the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.

That is a very comforting and uplifting thought! It is a truth worth holding on to when our marriages are on trial.

Introduction

Our culture shapes our thinking and conduct regarding marriage to an incredible degree…

Culture does play a very significant role in our attitudes and actions regarding marriage. The Christian must not be shaped by his culture, but by the cross of Christ, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God:

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11; see also Romans 12:1-2; Ephesians 4:17-24).

When the Christian comes to marriage then, we dare not allow the world (our culture) to shape our thinking, our attitudes, or our actions. The purpose of this message is to consider Christian marriage primarily in light of the teaching of Peter in his first epistle.

A Definition of a Christian Marriage

A Christian marriage is one in which at least one partner is a believer in Christ, who embraces the attitudes and actions prescribed by the Scriptures in their relationship with their mate.

We generally think of a Christian marriage114 as one in which both the husband and the wife115 are believers in Christ. While this is certainly the ideal, it is not always so.116 A Christian marriage is one in which Christ is manifested through the marriage relationship by at least one of the partners. Peter’s words to wives in 3:1-6 implies that a believing wife may manifest Christ while married to an unbeliever. Who would dare call this marriage something less than “Christian?”

It is not enough for one who is married to be a Christian. He or she must also think and act in a Christian manner. The Christian’s attitudes and actions must flow from the Scriptures. A Christian marriage is not governed by the same principles which guide and govern a secular marriage. The Christian life, including the relationship of marriage, is a supernatural life. A Christian marriage does not just happen naturally; it happens unnaturally, supernaturally, as we obey the Scriptures and individually depend upon the grace of God. Christian marriage is based upon a God-given faith, hope, and love, which only the true believer possesses.

I have often heard Christians say the principles for successful relationships apply as much to unbelievers as they do to believers. If one believes this, then it matters not whether the one who goes to a “Christian counselor” is a Christian or not; they simply need to be given the right principles. The Scriptures simply do not bear this out. Rather, the Scriptures inform us that when one comes to Christ, he or she becomes a “new creation,” old things have passed away and all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17). Peter also speaks of a radical change which takes place when one comes from darkness to light:

13 Therefore, gird your minds for action, keep sober [in spirit,] fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 17 And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay [upon earth]; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, [the blood] of Christ. 20 For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. 22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart, for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, [that is,] through the living and abiding word of God (1 Peter 1:13-23; see also 4:1-6).

Only a believer can live the way Peter instructs us to live. We can now be holy as God is holy because we are in Christ. We can fix our hope on the glory to be revealed at the return of our Lord because we have trusted in Him for salvation. We can love one another fervently because our souls have been purified in obedience to the truth.

Paul agrees, making it clear that it is impossible for an unbeliever to do those things which the Christian is commanded to do:

5 For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. 6 For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, 7 because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able [to do so]; 8 and those who are in the flesh cannot please God. 9 However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. 10 And if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. 11 But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you. 12 So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13 for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 15 For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (Romans 8:5-15).

The unbeliever sets his mind on the things of the flesh, not the things of the Spirit. As an unbeliever, he is hostile toward God and will not subject himself to God. An unbeliever cannot please God because they are only in the flesh. The Christian, however, has the Holy Spirit dwelling within him. The One who raised the dead body of the Lord Jesus to life is the One who can also make us alive to do what God requires.

In theory it is true—if he or she could and would follow biblical principles, the unbeliever would reap the benefits of doing so. The problem is that the unbeliever hates God, hates His commandments and instructions, and because he is ensnared by Satan and his own flesh, he cannot do what is pleasing to God. The biblical principles and commands we are about to enumerate are those which only a Christian can apply, in the power of God, to the glory of God, and to his or her own eternal benefit.

Having set down this preliminary definition of a Christian marriage, we will seek to articulate the values, goals, expectations, priorities and principles which are distinctly Christian.

Biblical Expectations for Marriage

 There is no such thing as “heaven on earth.” Heaven, as it were, will come down to the earth at the return of our Lord (see Revelation 21-22). But the New Testament writers give us no indication that the believer can and will experience heaven on earth. In short, Christ and the apostles speak of suffering now and glory later (Mark 10:29-30; Luke 9:21-26; 24:26; John 15:18-20; 16:33; Acts 14:22; 2 Corinthians 4 and 5; 1 Thessalonians 2:10-16; 3:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10; 2 Timothy 1:12; 2:12; 3:12; 4:1-8; James 5:8-11). Peter constantly emphasizes our present suffering and our future hope of glory (1 Peter 1:6-7, 13; 4:12-19; 5:4, 10). Peter’s words to citizens (2:13-17), to servants (2:18-25), to wives and husbands (3:1-7) indicate that no matter what our station in life, we will not experience the bliss of heaven until we pass from this life into the glory of Christ’s kingdom.

Godliness does not insure marital bliss. Most conservative, evangelical Christians recognize the error of what has been called the “health and wealth gospel,” “name it and claim it Christianity,” or the “prosperity gospel.” We would be especially critical of the “prosperity gospel” which promises people that God wants them to be rich and all they have to do is to follow a few rules. As this works itself out through the prosperity televangelists, viewers are urged to send in their donations, assured of receiving God’s manifold financial blessings in return. We rightly recognize this not only as untrue, but “hucksterism” at its worst.

We are inconsistent, however. Many who reject one form of the prosperity gospel believe it in another form. For example, how many parents believe that if they raise up their children in accordance with biblically prescribed principles they may be assured of having godly children in the end? How many Christians believe the “key to marital happiness” is simply to follow the manual? I am afraid we sincerely, but wrongly, assume that following divine principles assures us of experiencing marital bliss. This is simply neither biblical nor true.

For several reasons, we dare not presume that God is obligated to “bless” our marriage with happiness if we but “follow the rules.”

First, these presumptions are contrary to the principle of grace. It is a mechanical and legalistic viewpoint which believes that every good we do receives a good in return in this life. The Pharisees held this view and thus believed a person’s spirituality was measured by his earthly prosperity and ease. If one were poor, he must be a sinner. If one were sick, he must have done something wrong (see John 9:1-2). Spirituality could be measured by outward evidences of prosperity (see Luke 16:15). If we really believe this, we do not believe in grace. The grace by which we are saved and sanctified, the grace by which we live, does not work this way. Grace is the principle whereby God pours out blessings on men who do not deserve them. We would not want God’s blessings to come to us any other way. Marital bliss is not guaranteed, and most certainly not on the basis of our faithfully following a system of rules or principles.

Second, these presumptions ignore the fact that we live in a fallen world. Marriage existed before sin came upon the human race. It was Satan who attacked mankind through marriage. When God declared the consequences of sin, He did so in terms of marriage (see Genesis 3). We should not expect our marriage to somehow be exempt from the consequences of the fall of man. We should expect sin to adversely affect marriage as it does everything else (see Romans 8:18-25).

Peter therefore assumes that even when a Christian wife lives with an unbelieving husband, there will be suffering (1 Peter 3:1-6). More than this, Peter assumes that when a Christian husband and wife are living together, there will still be sin and suffering (1 Peter 3:7).

Third, living godly may produce an adverse reaction from others rather than a favorable response(see 1 Peter 2:7-12; 4:1-6).

Fourth, suffering is a part of the process by which God proves and purifies our faith, for our good and His glory (1 Peter 1:6-9; 2:18-25; see also Job, Psalm 73; Romans 5:1-11; James 1:2-4).

Our expectations of marriage must not be based on the attitudes and actions God requires of our mate. It is true that the husband should “live with his wife according to knowledge, granting her honor as the weaker vessel and as a co-heir of the grace of life” (3:7). But it is wrong for the wife to expect or even demand that her husband live this way. She should certainly hope and pray that he will. The requirements God makes of one mate are not found on the check-list of the other. The wife should strive, by God’s grace, to fulfill that which God requires of her, just as the husband should endeavor, by God’s grace, to be the kind of husband God requires of him. Neither the wife nor the husband should dare make their obedience to God’s instructions conditional on their mate fulfilling his or her biblical obligations. Peter’s instructions to married couples assume they will not.

A Biblical Goal for Marriage

Our expectations are closely linked with our goals. We set goals for those things we desire, which we believe are attainable. The Christian’s ultimate goal should not be to have a “good” marriage, but to be godly in his or her marriage. A godly marriage is one in which at least one partner exhibits Christ in the marriage, to the glory of God. The Lord Jesus came as the Suffering Servant and thus became the model for both wives and husbands (as for every other saint). By human standards, our Lord’s ministry was not successful. But by divine standards, His sacrifice was not only for the glory of God but for the good of all those who would call upon Him for salvation. A godly marriage displays the excellencies of God to a lost world (1 Peter 2:9), resulting in glory and praise to Him (2:11). It also provides an opportunity for a living witness to the grace and glory of God and the possibility of salvation for those who are lost (3:1). Our goal for marriage should not be the fulfilling of our sensual appetites, but obedience and victory over lust. Our goal should not be happiness, but holiness:

14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance, 15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all [your] behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY” (1 Peter 1:14-16).

Biblical Assumptions and Marriage

We should not assume God is more glorified by a “successful” and “happy” marriage than by one fraught with difficulties. As Paul points out in Ephesians 5, a marriage in which the husband and wife play out their respective roles obediently portrays the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church.

Peter’s emphasis, however, is somewhat different. Peter’s first epistle dealt with the problem of suffering. He taught that when we suffer unjustly and righteously as a citizen, as a slave, or as a husband or wife, we imitate Christ, the Suffering Servant. Christ submitted to earthly authorities at His expense and for our salvation (2:21-25).

It is Satan who believes that men only worship and serve God when they are the recipients of His blessings. He was convinced that when suffering came into their lives, they would deny God (see Job 1:9-11). Peter came to understand that suffering purifies our faith and results in praise and glory and honor to God as well as divine blessing for us (see 1 Peter 1:6-7). Steadfast faith in the midst of suffering glorifies God in a way which is not possible in the midst of prosperity. Job learned this lesson long ago, and Peter later embraced it as well.

We should not assume we are more spiritually blessed by a happy and trouble-free marriage than by one characterized by trials and tribulation. Our ultimate good in this life is not our happiness, but our holiness (1:15). Suffering often contributes more to our holiness than our “happiness” does (see 1 Peter 1:6-9; also Romans 5:1-11; 8:1ff.; see also Job and Psalm 73).

The world believes happiness is the good we should pursue, and that suffering is the evil we should seek to avoid. The Christian believes godliness is the good we should pursue, and that earthly suffering is the price we should willingly pay for godliness and future glory.

Biblical Priorities and Marriage

Peter learned from our Lord that marriage is a temporary and temporal relationship, not an eternal union (Matthew 22:30). He also learned that marriage, family, and earthly relationships should be subordinate to our relationship to God (Matthew 10:34-39; Luke 14:25-35). Many in Christian circles teach that while our devotion to Christ may come before our love for family, our family has priority over our ministry. It is indeed difficult to divide between our relationship with God and our service for Him.

The place of our family in our priorities is difficult because of errors at both extremes. Some seem to inundate themselves in ministry to avoid their family responsibilities. These people are really sluggards, not saints.117 Conversely, some use their family as a pretext for avoiding their spiritual obligations (see Luke 9:57-62). The subtle sin here is that in ostensibly making sacrifices to serve our family we are actually serving ourselves, for our life is tied up with our family. It is not surprising that in those texts in which Jesus called for His disciples to forsake (literally “hate”) their family as their first priority, He spoke of them “giving up their life” as well (see Matthew 10:39; Luke 14:26). Our commitment to Christ must come before all other commitments lest our devotion to Him be diminished (see 1 Corinthians 7:25-35).

Peter makes it clear that the eternal and precious takes precedence over the merely temporal (1 Peter 1:7, 13, 18-21, 23-25; 3:7) and that what brings glory to God takes precedence over what seems good to men (see 1:6-7; 2:12; 4:11-16; 5:1,4,10). Happiness is to be subordinate to holiness, and fleshly pleasures are to be subordinate to eternal blessings (1:1:13-16).

Paul speaks to the Corinthians about their preoccupation with fulfilling their personal physical appetites rather than obedience to God. In so doing, he points to the failure of the ancient Israelites (1 Corinthians 9-10). Jesus indicated to Satan that man does not live by bread alone, but rather by obedience to the Word of God (Matthew 4:4). Peter exhorts us to do likewise:

As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts [which were yours] in your ignorance (1 Peter 1:14).

Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul (1 Peter 2:11).

Later, in his second epistle, Peter will warn his readers about those false teachers who will seek to entice them by appealing to their fleshly desires (2 Peter 2:1-22).

Biblical Principles and Marriage

Contrary to many “marriage manuals” and seminars on marriage, the key to a biblical marriage is not the execution of specialized techniques applicable to marriage alone. Rather, the key to a biblical marriage is the possession of biblical attitudes and actions which apply to all relationships. Immediately after addressing Christian wives (3:1-6) and husbands (3:7), Peter sums us his teaching on submission with these general principles applicable to every human relationship, including marriage:

8 To sum up, let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; 9 not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing (1 Peter 3:8-9).

Often Christians are told how they can spice up their marriages by employing techniques devised by man. Women are taught to be as seductive as Jezebel, with the assurance that keeping her husband satisfied at home will prevent worry about outside competition for her husband’s affection. Far too often, this is at best an element of truth and a massive dose of worldly advice. The advice may be partially sanctified by calling it “Christian,” but most often it is secular and fleshly at its core. The Christian is not to live in accordance with the wisdom of this world but according to knowledge, the knowledge of God found in His Word.

In Peter’s epistle (2:21-25), as in Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (5:21-33), Christ is the model for marriage. Have you ever stopped to think that in the Bible there is no model marriage, no model family? It seems Paul was not married and may never have been married (1 Corinthians 7:8; 9:5-6). We do not even know Peter’s wife’s name or how many children they had, if any. No marriage in the Bible could be considered a model marriage for us to strive to imitate. Only Christ serves as the model for marriage, and He was never married. Nevertheless, Christ manifested by His life and sacrificial death the mindset and ministry husbands and wives should have toward each other. He sets the standard, which is perfect obedience to God. He is the example of selfless love and sacrifice for the benefit of His bride, the church. He is the One who is the standard for both the wife (“in the same way,” 1 Peter 3:1) and the husband (“likewise,” 3:7). As husbands and wives dwell together, each should live as Christ, surrendering self-interest while seeking the best interest of the other. To follow the example of Christ means we are willing to endure the pain and the penalty which results from the sins of others, with the goal of their salvation. Submission is not just seeking the best interest of another; it is seeking their best interest at our expense.

We make the most of our marriage by not making too much of it. Some people do not take marriage seriously enough; others make too much of it. They mistakenly see it as the solution to all of their problems. Peter does not speak of marriage as the key to earthly happiness. For Peter, marriage is an institution where sin will bring about suffering. But the difficulties marriage introduces into our lives are also the occasion for us to evidence Christ-like attitudes and actions. We, like Christ, can demonstrate submission and steadfast faith in the context of innocent suffering. And in so doing, God may not only use our witness to His glory and to our good, but He may also employ our suffering to bring about the salvation of one who is lost (see 1 Peter 2:24-25; 3:1, 15).

Marriage witnesses to both those on earth (2:9-12) and the angelic observers. When Paul speaks of the conduct of women in the church, he indicates that obedience to his instructions will be observed by the angels (1 Corinthians 11:10). Elsewhere, Paul speaks of the celestial beings learning from what is taking place in the church (Ephesians 3:10). Peter emphasizes the interest with which angelic beings observe the things related to salvation in the church:

10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that [would come] to you made careful search and inquiry, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look (1 Peter 1:10-12).

Marriage is an eternal investment—the more you put into it, the more you get out of it from the Lord at His return. Marriage is not about equality, regardless of popular cultural ideas and values on the subject. Marriage is about ministry. Marriage is about submission and servanthood. All too often one partner carefully “meters out” or measures the things he or she contributes to the other partner, and then very carefully measures what is given back in return. The hope is that what we get back will at least equal or even better, exceed perhaps, what we have put into it.

This principle appears to be wise and proper in monetary investments. But in marriage, it is entirely opposite of the biblical standard. We are to give, and give, and give, with no expectation of receiving from our mate in return. We are to look to God for blessings and rewards, and we are not to expect or demand them in this life. Jesus made it clear that giving with the expectation of returns is neither gracious nor godly:

12 And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbors, lest they also invite you in return, and repayment come to you. 13 But when you give a reception, invite [the] poor, [the] crippled, [the] lame, [the] blind, 14 and you will be blessed, since they do not have [the means] to repay you; for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous” (Luke 14:12-14).

The principle our Lord lays down applies to marriage and to every other relationship. We give, not in order to get, but in order to manifest grace. And when we look for rewards, we know they also are a matter of grace and not of works.

Conclusion

I can scarcely communicate how important this message on marriage is to me. It is important because our marriages communicate a message, a message about the Lord Jesus Christ and about His relationship with His church. Marriage is a manifestation of the gospel, lived out day by day by the husband and the wife. When we mess up in our marriages, we mess up the gospel message that others see in our marriage relationship.

Sad though it is to say, many marriages are in serious trouble, and they don’t even seem to know it. Christian marriages are dissolving at nearly the same rate as the world in which we live. It is as though the gospel, the Word of God, and the Spirit of God have little power or impact on our marriages. I believe it is because we are seeking to live according to the standard the world has set and the goals it seeks to attain. We are living by the same power the unbeliever draws upon. To have a Christian marriage is to strive for the goals and standards the Bible sets, by the power which God alone provides. It is to cease striving for our own happiness and to endeavor, by His grace, to manifest godliness in our marriages, even when they fall far short of God’s ideal, and even when they bring suffering, sadness, and heartache to our lives.

Christian marriage is important because this relationship is indicative of all our relationships. The same principles which guide and govern our marriages guide and govern all our relationships. If we cannot live together with the one we have purposed to love until death parts us, how can we live in peace and harmony with our fellow-believers, or with our neighbors, or our enemies?

Our marriages are but a rehearsal for the great marriage yet to come, our union with the Lord Jesus Christ, enjoying His presence forever:

6 And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude and as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty peals of thunder, saying, “Hallelujah! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. 7 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” 8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. 9 And he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” And he said to me, “These are true words of God” (Revelation 19:6-9).

At His return, our marriage with Christ will be consummated. But for now we maintain a relationship with Him through His Word and through His Spirit. Our communion is through Bible study, worship, and prayer, which makes these essential to our lives. Our earthly marriages are a reflection of our relationship with Christ. Our expectations of God and our expectations of marriage overlap. When we expect nothing but ease, comfort, and pleasure from marriage, that is most likely what we expect from God in this life. When we are angry, frustrated, and out of submission to our mate, our relationship with God is probably similar. When we worship God and come away wondering what benefit we got from it, we probably have the same attitude toward our marriage.

Submission is an attitude which relates not only to people but to circumstances. When adverse circumstances come our way, this is often the time we strike out against others, our mate, and even God. Biblical submission accepts our circumstances as having come, first and foremost, from the hand of a sovereign and loving God, who causes “all things to work together for [our] good and His glory” (Romans 8:28). Submission then seeks to serve, in spite of these difficulties, to the glory of God and the good of others, at the cost of personal sacrifice. We sacrifice our pleasure, our happiness, our interests, looking to God alone to give us what we need even though it may not be what we want.

May God grant to each of us the willingness to be the kind of husband or wife that He wants us to be, to His glory, to the benefit and blessing of our mate and others, and to the salvation of lost sinners.


114 I am not sure the term “Christian marriage” is altogether appropriate. When the word “Christian” is used as an adjective (e.g. “Christian business”), it can be problematic.

115 Unfortunately, in light of our culture it is necessary to stipulate one final qualification: the two partners in marriage may not be of the same sex. Who would have thought, 25 years ago, one would need to specify that in a Christian marriage the partners must be male and female? There is no such thing as a Christian homosexual marriage.

116 The Scriptures are clear in teaching that a Christian should marry only another Christian (see 1 Corinthians 7:39; also 2 Corinthians 6:14-18). It is possible, however, that one has become a believer after being married. In such mixed marriages, Scripture is clear that those unions should be preserved if possible (see 1 Corinthians 7:10-16).

117 As I understand the sluggard in Proverbs, he is not a person who does nothing at all, but one who works very hard to avoid doing what he dislikes. The workaholic is, in this light, a sluggard, who works hard at one thing while avoiding another. And all the while many Christians will praise him for so doing.

Darrin Patrick – Marriage: Loving Your Wife and Your Mission

darrin patrickDarrin Patrick talks about marriage, from what he calls the clearest message on marriage in the Bible: Ephesians 5:18-33.

Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wivesas their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Husbands are accountable as the heads. Yet, they must love, just like Jesus loved the church.

What does it mean to ‘Act like Jesus?’

  • forgive first
  • sacrifice most
  • serve, instead of wanting to be served
  • take responsibility for things that aren’t your fault

Husbands take responsibility for their wives spiritual health:

  • Protection. You are her protector and if you don’t protect her, she will have no choice but to protect herself. And self protection is a form of pride.
  • Cultivation. You look at her future glory, how she’s going to be for Jesus. And while you meditate on that, you will have motivation to help her with her practical struggles. One day, she will be perfectly and utterly confident before God. She will know why she is made. Picture that, and let it motivate you to help her with the hard spots in her life, and the hard truths that she is having difficulty with. If you’re doing this, how do you know? Because your wife is loving Jesus more because of you. The tragedy is that most wives have to grow, not because of their husbands, but, in spite of their husbands. 
  • Nourish/Cherish – to feed, to train, to teach. But, you also cherish her (verses 28-29). The word cherish means- you’re creating an environment. The idea is it’s ‘warmth’. The idea is: Husbands, teach your wife Scripture, have spiritual conversations where you help her understand who God is, who she is, what her mission is in the world. You do all that, in an environment that you have created, of safety and warmth.”Nourish and cherish”.

couple hold hands

 

This is what it means to take spiritual responsibility of your wife. And, here’s the thing. If you don’t cherish her this way, she will find her own cherishing. Listen, your wife was made to be cherished. She cannot, not want that. And maybe. some hyper fenimism has tried to beat it out of her. Maybe her mom said, „Don’t ever trust a man.” Maybe this book said: Don’t ever give yourself fully. It doesn’t matter what she does. That’s who she is, and that’s what she wants: To be cherished. And you are God’s ordained man to do that. If you don’t, she will find ways to cherish herself. So, she’ll eat and look for comfort. Or find someone else to cherish her. They’re gonna talk to their moms, all the time, because they’re lonely. And some of your have great mothers in law so I am not criticizing that. Some will hide in their career, or the gym. Men, she’s made to be cherished, and you are her chief cherisher. We say this many times: You don’t love your wife to make her lovely, you love her to make her lovely. She’s lovely, but you’re gonna make her more lovely, as you love her. But, that requires confrontation.

  • Confrontation – Ever had an infection in your body? It’s painful, it’s awkward. Husbands and wives confront each other. They clean out their wounds. They scrape out the infection.And husbands, you take the lead in this cleaning. If you don’t take the lead, she’s not going to feels safe to clean your wounds. If you’re not in constant scraping, in constant prayer, constant loving confrontation, your marriage is sub christian. 

Biblical Headship

~~Husbands lead by making more of the Gospel, than of their marriage. (verse 29). You can get the Gospel without marriage. But, I don’t know that you can get the marriage without the Gospel. I know there are people who have decent marriages, that are not believers, but the more you understand the Gospel, the more you will lovingly lead. The purpose of marriage is to reenact what Jesus has done, and is doing. That’s the purpose of marriage. It’s reenacting the Gospel.

The Gospel is the focus, But, it’s also a pattern. Husbands, as you lead, you are putting on display the kind of leadership that Christ exercises over His church. Wives, as you submit to your husbands’ leadership, you are putting on display the type of surrendered trust that Christ wants in response to His love for the church.

So people ought to be able to look at our marriages and say, „Look, there’s the Gospel.” And so, as you get closer together, what happens in Gospel reenactment? You are confronted with your sin and you are confronted with the acceptance of your own righteousness, apart from your work. So what happens in your marriage? Same thing. Nobody knows your sins more than your spouse. You hid them from your room mates, your parents, but, there’s dirt underneath your dirt, that only your spouse sees. They know when you’re lying. They know everything.

And what happens is, if you are able to see your sin against God, the way God sees it- this is what put Jesus on the cross, this deserves the wrath of God, this is what separates me from God… If that is there, before you, if the Gospel is ever before you, you’ll be able to forgive your husband. If you believe that „I’m accepted for what Jesus has done. It’s not about my history, it’s not about how good my sermon is. I’m loved because I’m loved. I’m a son before I am a soldier. If that is real to you, you’re not gonna demand that your wife compliment you 15 times in the car. You have to make much of the Gospel. Marriage brings you into conflict. Not just with your spouse, or yourself, but, with God. Are you going to be under control of the Spirit? Or, are you going to repeat the patterns of previous generations and the way men dealt with their wives?

Published on Nov 14, 2012 thejourneystl 

From the November 2012 A29 bootcamp at The Journey, in St. Louis, Mo.

Sexual Temptation – Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?

A great post over at ChurchLeaders.com written by Aaron McCarter.

Aaron McCarter shows that „Proverbs is warning us not to let lust override the commandments of God’s word„. And McCarter points out that it is no different today, than it was during Solomon’s reign when he wrote his admonitions to young men. McCarter writes:

Proverbs holds a view of romance, marriage, and sex that was counter-cultural back then, and it’s counter-cultural now. In Proverbs, the highest possible value is placed on faithfulness and friendship in marriage. I’m not entirely sure those are the leading ideas in culture at large today.

He talks about the danger of sexual temptation and recounts the devastation he has seen from „having a front row seat” to the destruction of many a marriage:

Being a pastor can be sobering at times. I’ve been given a front row seat too many times to watch the destruction that unfaithfulness brings to a marriage. It’s horrifying to watch. Usually I’m brought in to help… but I generally feel like a helpless bystander with little or nothing to offer. It’s just carnage. You’ve probably seen it yourself.

No decent human being sets out to cheat on their spouse… but it happens all of time. Why? It’s not because somebody goes out and does it. It’s far more subtle than that. The seeds of adultery are planted in the mind.

People have affairs because one day they allowed themselves to consider it. That’s all. And then, inevitably, they flirted with the idea (even if they didn’t yet even flirt with an actual person). And the momentum gathers.

“Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned? Or can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be scorched? So is he who goes in to his neighbor’s wife; none who touches her will go unpunished.”

He concludes by comparing lust to fire and showing how fire can be „powerful and useful„, yet, „difficult to contain and enormously destructive„. He concludes with a pastoral warning:

Don’t see how long you can carry fire next to your chest. God intended sex, romance, and relationships to be handled in a certain way, and walking close to sexual temptation is a sure way to get burned.

 

 

 

 

Pornography – the „family killer” that is increasing divorce and infidelity rates

photo via http://www.images.learnsoc.org

Experts call it the „quiet family killer.”

Pornography is a booming business, but the addiction is now to blame for a growing number of divorces.

Four to 16 hours a day of sexually explicit videos and pictures. That’s how far porn addiction goes for many of Michael Howard’s married clients.

„For the spouse or partner that feels betrayed, it’s as if their partner is choosing someone or something else over them,” said Howard, a marriage and family therapist at the Healing Solutions Counseling Center.

Howard says pornography breaks relationships as much or more than cheating.

„Feelings of inadequacy. Am I not good enough, am I not pretty enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, am I not good enough in bed?” said Howard.

Divorce and child custody attorneys say those doubts lead many couples to court.

„We see over 50 percent, probably between 50 and 60 percent of every case, someone is alleging pornography excessive use,” said Angela McIlveen, of Mcllveen Family Law Firm.
Read the entire article here – http://www.foxcharlotte.com/news/top-stories/Porn-Use-Increasing-Local-Divorce

Paul Washer – What are some of God’s mighty works that He has done in your life? Plus a new book

 

Paul Washer Sermons PAGE – click here

Published on Oct 1, 2012 by 

This clip, from an Interview in 2009, was never put up on the Internet. Paul talks about the greatest miracle in his life, it not being some supernatural thing, but it rather being the love of the Father to discipline him.

Download MP3: http://illbehonest.com/The-Miracle-of-Gods-Faithful-Discipline-Paul-Washer

The Miracle of God’s Faithful Discipline

-NEW BOOK-

The Gospel’s Power and Message

by Paul Washer – 288 pages, available mid October at –

http://www.heritagebooks.org/ and http://www.monergismbooks.com/

One of the greatest crimes of this generation of Christians is its neglect of the gospel, and it is from this neglect that all our other maladies spring forth. Absent from too many pulpits are the essential themes which make up the very core of the gospel—the justice of God, the radical depravity of man, the blood atonement. In The Gospel’s Power and Message, Paul Washer addresses these essential elements of Christ’s good news and provides a guide to help us rediscover the gospel in all its beauty, scandal, and saving power. May such a rediscovery transform your life, strengthen your proclamation, and bring the greatest glory to God.

Read a sample pdf here (monergismbooks.com)

Table of Contents:

Preface

PART ONE: An Apostolic Introduction

  1. A Gospel to Know and Make Known
  2. A Gospel to be Received
  3. A Gospel by which We Are Saved
  4. A Gospel of First Importance
  5. A Gospel Handed Down and Delivered

PART TWO: The Power of God for Salvation

  1. “The” Gospel
  2. A Scandalous Gospel
  3. A Powerful Gospel
  4. A Gospel for all Who Believe

PART THREE: The Acropolis of the Christian Faith

  1. Making Much of Sin
  2. Making Much of God
  3. Sinners One and All
  4. Sinners Falling Short
  5. Sinners Through and Through
  6. Righteous Indignation
  7. Holy War
  8. A Most Costly Gift
  9. The Divine Dilemma
  10. A Qualified Redeemer
  11. The Cross of Jesus Christ
  12. The Vindication of God
  13. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ
  14. The Foundation of Faith in the Resurrection
  15. Christ’s Ascension as the High Priest of His People
  16. Christ’s Ascension as the Lord of All
  17. Christ’s Ascension as the Judge of All

Free ebook – Preparing for Marriage from Desiring God

From John Piper at Desiring God:

One of the most accessed pages on our website is a set of questions for couples preparing for marriage. Many have found John Piper’s way of asking the questions helpful in getting right at some pretty deep stuff – whether it’s the typical questions or the ones far too many couples don’t think to ask (like theology, worship and devotion, and the roles of husband and wife).

Preparing for Marriage: Help for Christian Couples is a new ebook from Desiring God aimed at aiding couples – whether dating and considering marriage, or engaged and preparing for marriage – to get to know each other better in some of life’s most significant matters, and be more fit to discern God’s leading for their lives.

CLick here to download the book:

– Download ebook as a PDF file.

Panel discussion SBTS – Helpful question & answer session on marriage and ministry

A great session at the end of a one day conference at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, geared towards pastors and ministry leaders, however every couple (even the one not in active ministry) can learn and apply most of the answers given  in this very candid conversation.

See previous messages on marriage and ministry at SBTS by-

  1. After Russell’s message this morning, just talking about something as serious as pornography, having a discussion- husband and wife- about that, CJ (Mahaney) had some things to add from his years of shepherding, where something like this has to occur, (what is) the process…?
  2. What if you have a pastor who is leading the church, pronounced leadership, but, he’s not leading in the home? How is the wife to respond. We say ‘love covers a multitude of sins’, it doesn’t cover all sins, here’s a wife who sees inconsistency, she’s hearing him preach, but at home he is not a good leader. What would you recommend?
  3. How do we deal with the inconsistency that we experience? We preach a better message at times. So, we have the standards and we can’t lower the Scriptures to our lifestyle. How do we work through that? That can be a challenge at times. I mean, you’re going to church and a fight breaks out and you’re gonna stand before the people of God… and that’s tough.
  4. Where do we go for help, as pastors in the local church?
  5. What are some of the early warning signs in a Gospel ministry couple of indications where they need to get help? There’s obviously some sins that we handle through grace induced progressive sanctification, others you need to get intensive, you need to nip it in the bud. What are these early warning signs?
  6. How do you work through a dry season? ( a dry, flat [or too busy] time in your marriage)
  7. Sometimes, in your church you come across a couple who says they never fought. What do you think about them?
  8. (Give) some principles, real practical, of how to fight fair. What does a good fight look like in your home?

Panel Discussion from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

 

Al Mohler on Marriage and Ministry Crisis

Al Mohler – President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary: When you think of all the things that might demand our attention, it’s hard to come up with anything that is more important than this: Marriage and Ministry.

Jesus Stills the Sea

Luke 8: 22 Now on one of those days Jesus and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them,“Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended on the lake, and they beganto be swamped and to be in danger. 24 They came to Jesus and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And He got up and rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” They were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”

In the introduction (first 1/2 hour) Al Mohler talks about assuming the role of President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in the spring of 1993.
  • Everybody reacts differently in a crisis, some people just disappear. You’re gonna discover who your friends are during a crisis because they’re the ones standing with you.

Normative picture of a minister in the New Testament: One who is married to one wife; representing the covenantal commitment and the integrity and fidelity of that love.

Ten principles for marriage during ministry crisis

  1. Your marriage and your ministry are inseparable. That’s not an uncontroversial statement. Your marriage is who you are and that commitment you’ve made and covenant fidelity n marriage and that commitment you’re going to make is a commitment prior to your calling to any specific place in ministry. You are not going to ever be able successfully to separate your ministry or your marriage because if you think you’re doing that, you’re lying to yourself and you’re setting yourself up for a horrible disaster. I’ve known pastors who had tragic marriages and were great exopsitors, but that was a clear limp, at least. And I have seen several of them come to the end of their ministry and you realize there is something horrifyingly missing even now. We can’t just act that our marriage and our ministry are inseparable, they’re not because we’re not individually separable from our call and we’re not individually separable from our covenantal commitments. We are all we are all the time. If we suffer under the illusion that we can somehow set our marriage on the side and our ministry on the other side, that we can set them apart as 2 distinct dimensions of who we are, we fool ourselves.(47 min)
  2. Your marriage will anchor your ministry, not the other way around. Never for a minute think that the ministry’s gonna save your marriage. It won’t. Now, your marriage can save your ministry. If you think you can find better fulfillment that will compensate for what you don’t have in your marriage, you’re doomed.
  3. Your marriage will determine your state of your heart, not your ministry. The state of our heart is a very urgently important thing because we’re never higher than our heart.
  4. Your home is to be your haven in a heartless world. In other words, when you go out in the world expect to be hurt, ministry is a risk, you are exposing yourself to criticism and injury. You can be hurt at home… but you better not be hurt n the same way and it has to be the haven from those hurts.
  5. Your wife must be a partner in ministry, not a mere observer. If she is you’re living in a bifurcated world and setting yourself up for disaster.
  6. When crisis come, lean on each other, drawing strength from each other. It’s just common sense, that is what marriage is all about. You lean on Christ and you lean on each other and you’ve got to be careful about leaning on e=anyone else.
  7. Protect her heart and trust in God. If you think that what you are going to do is protect your wife from reality, that’s not going to work. That’s making her into an observer, sometimes even a distant observer, not a participant. But, if you take everything home to her, in terms of your hurts, you need to be careful when you have a moment of anger, or you’ve been let down, that you don’t poison her view of someone, horrifyingly.
  8. Protect your children and interpret events for them and live confidently. Children don’t need to have all the data… they just need to know you’re happy with mom, and you’re secure in your calling and that you’re confident in Jesus.
  9. If you have to choose, lose the ministry, not the marriage. And, the second thing you would have to say after that is, „If you lose the marriage, you’d better lose the ministry anyway”. If you get to that point… and I don’t mean just because your wife doesn’t want to live in this state, or you got hurt feelings and you wanna go home. I mean, if you realize, „I can’t do this, I can’t stay here and stay married”… Then Stay married! God’s sovereign. If He’s called you, you’ll get to a place where you can stay both faithful in ministry and faithful in marriage.
  10. Aim to grow old and happy together. The biblical picture here is really rich. Plan a life from beginning to end together.

Leading Your Family Through Ministry Crisis from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

C J Mahaney – Marriage and Pastoral Ministry

photo via http://www.girltalkhome.com

C J Mahaney talks to husbands at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary speaks about his marriage to his wife Carolyn for 37 years:

  1. Care for her soul
  2. Consistent communication
  3. Create romantic memories

 

 

Marriage and Pastoral Ministry from Southern Seminary on Vimeo.

 

Moral Purity in Marriage

Dr. Russell Moore – You will encounter sexual temptation in your marriage. It is not a question of whether you will encounter sexual temptation, you will encounter sexual temptation when the satanic powers see two who become one flesh, what they see is a living, breathing,  organic display of what they hate the most, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Whatever sexual temptation will come into your marriage is not about you, it is about something that has been going on for millennia and something that was purposed and planned in the mind of God before the cosmos ever was. Your struggle and your battle is precisely what the serpent offers in the garden when he says to the woman, simultaneously, „See yourself as an animal”. She’s been given dominion, the Bible says, over all the beasts of the fields and now she is taking direction from a beast of the field. And also, „See yourself as a god. You can decide what is good and evil”. You will face this throughout your marriage because this is exactly what the apostle Paul is talking about when he says the issue with sexual purity is not simply about self control, although it is about self control. It is about a kind of self control that is doing warfare against the temptation of Satan.

Paul has been going through this entire letter, talking to them about the dangers out there, in the spiritual world. He talks about sexual morality, he talks about sexual fidelity and he says, „Don’t you understand that there is something spiritual happening here?

ADULTERY – Almost anybody in this room can look around and see the kind of carnage that takes place in the lives of even the people that you know. Some of you have pastors who preached the Gospel to you , or baptized you and were later destroyed because of an adulterous affair. Sexual immorality is not something that suddenly happens to you, sexual immorality is part of a conspiracy and a plot to work with you in your sin in order to, as the book of proverbs says, trap you like an animal who is caught.  Paul says, „Flee from sexual immorality. Be warned about joining yourself in adultery”. And why is that the case?  It’s because this warning applies to all of the people of God. We typically think that sexual temptation and sexual opportunity happen to sexy people. That is not the way that it happens. And I have seen so many men who have left beautiful, godly wives for women that you would not even notice if you passed them in the hallway. This is not a matter of how sexy someone is. The Satanic powers are noticing you. They are watching you. Especially those of you who have stood up and said, „I am pursuing God’s call upon my life, to stand and to speak for Christ, in proclaiming the oracles of God.” They will do anything to see to it that the Gospel is discredited by your animalistic impulses. Most people who find themselves drawn into adultery, are not drawn into adultery because they are so oversexed. Most of them, instead find them selves in that place because marriage is a mission, it’s an economy. It’s an order that has been put together and it is hard labor together to bring forth the bread from the earth and to be fruitful and multiply, and to raise up the next generation and to get along with one another through all of these sufferings and all of this strife.  Notice what the apostle Paul says here, it is shockingly radical „You belong to each other”. He does not simply say, „Flee adultery”. He says something significant here. He says, „Husbands, your body belongs to your wife. And wives, your body belongs to your husband”. Do you realize what a shocking statement that is?

(2) FORNICATION – When you change the biblical name ‘fornication’ which is something that is evil, to ‘premarital sex’ you are changing it to something that signifies it is just a matter of timing. There are some ways that fornication mimics the conjugal union of sex. When you have two that are joining themselves together, outside of that life long covenant, you are picturing something other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The fornication is not simply something that is timed badly. The fornication is a spiritual act that is joining you and attaching you in some mystical way to another person, in a way that communicates a ‘Christ who is not faithful to His bride’. That is not just immoral, that is blasphemy. One of the significant issues that we face in our churches is that we have an entire generation of young people who are able to cover over and to callous their consciences by being technical virgins, by justifying to themselves acts of rebellion against God as somehow being acceptable and somehow being justifiable in a way that not only stores up sin, but also devastates the functioning christian conscience. And often, even those teenagers and young single adults in our churches, who are remaining faithful in sexual purity are doing so more out of risk avoidance than out of a commitment to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God has revealed that fornicators will not enter the kingdom of God. One of the things we have in our church and possibly in your marriage is that we don’t really believe that. And we really do not see the spiritual war that is going on at this point, because we assume it’s premarital sex, so once the marriage takes place, the issue is now resolved. Some of you in your marriages right now are experiencing deadness and mistrust, and conflict because you, husband led that woman into fornication and you have never gotten to the point of repentance before God for evil. Everything that you said to her, to convince her that this was justifiable, every act of hiddenness that you took to manage your own hiddenness and to cover over your sin, yo will be able to do just as easily, again with some other woman. „She’s the love of my life!” You’ll feel that way about some other woman some day. „We were just so carried away”. You’ll be carried away again, like that. „The timing was so wrong, we were so young”. „My wife just doesn’t understand me and I’m at a time in my life when I really need this relationship”. Until you get to the point, specifically men, where you, as a former fornicator get on your knees with your wife and say, „I am guilty of not protecting you, of not exercising Godly headship over you, of not loving you as Christ loved the church, and I repent before God and I repent before you”. You will never understand what the scripture is talking about when it says, „you were washed, you were freed”. The problem is that we assume that because the problem is in the past, that the issue is over, but, nothing drives 2 people further apart than sinning together. Your wife, men, may not trust you right now because she knows her parents couldn’t trust you then. Until that is dealt with, with the kind of heart that cries out, „Lord have mercy and free me and wash me”, you will never find the kind of spiritual power and freedom in your marriage that  you so desperately need.

(3) PORNOGRAPHY. The apostle Paul doesn’t speak to pornography directly here, but he speaks to porneia, to sexual immorality. And this issue has become almost ubiquitous to such a degree that pornography in terms of spiritual warfare has been weaponized, including in our churches. Now, when a couple comes into my church and says, „We don’t know what’s wrong in our marriage, we just don’t have any intimacy, we don’t have sex with each other anymore, we just feel cold, I immediately say, „How long has the porn been going on? ” Husband usually looks at me like I’m an Old Testament prophet or a new age psychic. It is because it happens so often and with such regularity and it always has the same satanic results. PORNOGRAPHY IS UNIQUELY SATANIC BECAUSE IT DRIVES YOU TOWARDS INSATIABILITY. Nobody in the history of the world has said, „Ok Ive seen my porn”. Porn, by definition drives you further and further and further towards intimacy . WHy? Because it is an occultic pull upon you that is driving you towards the kind of mystery  and the kind of intimacy  that you are designed to find in the one flesh union and it severs that away from real life, covenant, flesh and blood love in such a way that you become numbed over to the joy of sexual intimacy itself. PORNOGRAPHY LURES YOU IN WITH SEXINESS, and then TOTALLY EVISCERATES YOUR CAPACITY  FOR SEXUAL INTIMACY. So much so, that there may even be men in this room  who are so captured by pornography that you are not even able to have sex with your wife without retrieving for yourself images that you have archived from porn. If you do not see how desperate and how sad and how pathetic and how pitiful that situation is, you will never find freedom. When you put yourself in the orbit of pornography, you are not just viewing material, you are joining yourself with a digital prostitute. Someone who is paid to create a sexual arousal in you, you are doing exactly what the apostle Paul is warning about in Corinth, when he says, „Don’t go up there to the temple prostitutes. What will happen when you get there, no matter how you cover over it, no matter how you keep it hidden, something spiritual has happened in the most wicked sort of way. Pornography will move in and destroy you because it will start to create you into the kind of person for whom intimacy is simply body parts rubbing together, not one flesh. And you will ultimately find yourself, when you have seen every image you want to see, when you have read every word you want to have read, like Esau, vomiting up the red stuff that he craved so badly. Pornography has some of you enslaved, precisely because the satanic powers love to work by helping you to hide your sin.

The power that Satan has over you is only two fold. Satan’s power is to take those things the God has created for good in your life, including the impulse towards intimacy and to twist it slightly away from its intended object, so that you become more and more entrapped and enslaved in your own deception. That you are exactly in the situation the apostle Paul speaks of as unbelievers, „Following after the prince of the power of the air, through the passions of the body and of the mind”. The only other power he has is Revelation 12- to accuse the brothers. Some of you are staying in hiding right now when you are at the place in your life where if there is enough of the sense of the urgency of the situation, you can save your life. , you can save your marriage, but you are hiding in the bushes back there where our prehistoric parents are. But, there is a voice through the word of God speaking as it does in every generation that asks the question, „Adam, where are you?”

The only way that you will break yourself free from the pull toward immorality is to come out of hiding. „Lord have mercy upon me, the sinner”.  And the only way that the power of Satan can be defeated is first of all, by recognizing that the goodness that God has given you in that one flesh union in your marriage is to point you to something that is even better news than that. So that the very act of holding that husband, holding that wife, crying and weeping in repentance together, that very act is a physical picture of what the apostle Paul says to the church at Colossae, when he says, „All of that legal record of our condemnation, that list of thoughts and intents, and archived internet histories has been nailed to His cross, disarming the principalities and powers by making a public display  of them.

Tim and Kathy Keller – The Gospel Coalition for Women 2012

Photo from http://chinese.christianpost.com

Tim Keller talks about the unreal and distorted picture our culture has for marriage today, secondly, what the underlying beliefs and attitudes are and then thirdly, where the Bible and the Gospel can help our culture.

PRE-CONFERENCE Tim and Kathy Keller from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

An Essential Talk by Bruce Ware on Manhood

The following was posted at the blog of The Gospel Coalition (04/20/2010):

Theologian Bruce Ware just gave a noteworthy talk on godly manhood at his church, Clifton Baptist Church of Louisville, Kentucky.  The talk was entitled “Select Principles on Being a Biblically Faithful Man and Husband”.  I heard the talk and commend the audio to you.  The following is the handout given out at the talk.  The handout alone is one of the most helpful documents I’ve seen on what godly manhood looks like.

1. Love.   1) Loving God increasingly w/ all my heart, soul, mind and strength; loving Christ and the cross; loving the gospel — these are the foundation for all else.  Drawing from God all I need to be the man and husband God has called me to be is my strength and hope.  2) Loving my wife as Christ loves the Church — this is the umbrella principle for marriage; everything else flows from this responsibility and privilege (Eph 5:25ff).

2. Leadership.   Biblical manhood involves cultivating, embracing, and exercising leadership initiative, especially spiritual leadership initiative.  This is a principle that applies to young men and adult single men just as well as to married men.  Cultivate, embrace, and exercise spiritual leadership initiative.   In marriage, my love for my wife involves and requires that I exert leadership in our relationship.  My headship of my wife means I’m responsible for her spiritual growth and well-being.  And as a father, I’m responsible in ways that my wife is not for the spiritual development of our children (Eph 6:1-4).  And again, to do this, I must be seeking God and growing personally.  Only out of the storehouse of my own soul’s growth in God can I assist my wife to grow spiritually.

3. Example.  Lead by example as much as by admonition and instruction.  Set the example in:  consistent times in the Word and prayer;  in sacrificial service for your wife, children, church family members, and community needs;  in giving faithfully, generously, and regularly of your finances;  in humble admission of wrong-doing along with confession, asking forgiveness, and repentance.  Fight pride, fight defensiveness, fight carnality before others.

4. Authority.  All three points above imply and invoke the concept of male-headship.  Yes, God has given special authority to husbands and fathers.  Learn, though, the correct expression of healthy, constructive, upbuilding, God-honoring, Christ-following authority.  Resist and reject the sinful extremes of 1) harshness, bossiness, mean-spirited authoritarianism, and of 2) laziness, apathy, lethargy, negligence, and abdication of authority to the women in our lives.  Learn to blend firmness with gentleness, truth with grace, a firm hand with a warm smile.

5. Acceptance.   Each of us is unique as God has made us.  We should accept others’ differences w/o thinking ourselves to be either superior or inferior to others.  In marriage, my wife is unique, and so in many ways, she is not like me.  I need to accept who she is, prayerfully and sensitively seeking to assist her in changing what is sinful and needs to be changed, and accepting what is “just different.”

6. Listening.   One of my wife’s biggest and most real needs is my attentive and respectful listening ear.  She loves to share her experiences, thoughts, ideas, feelings, concerns, hurts, joys, etc.   I can minister to my wife more than one might think by offering her caring, responsive, and respectful listening and interaction.  Learn to listen sympathetically w/o rushing to “fix it” solutions.  Connect first heart to heart, then later heart to head.  Establish regular times of mutual sharing (yes, mutual), keep short accounts, and act on what you hear and learn.

7. Understanding.   I need to live with my wife in an understanding way (1 Pet 3:7), to learn her needs, her sensitivities.  I should seek to know the desires and felt needs of my wife and, when appropriate and possible, fulfill these.  I need to discover her “language of love” and make every effort to love her in ways she feels loved.

8. Work.   A man’s main sense of identity, responsibility, and purpose is found in his work.  Wives want to take pride in their husbands, and taking pride in their work is an important part of this.  Women are not meant to bear the financial weight of a marriage or family, so husbands must work hard and responsibly.  As important as work is to a man’s identity and fulfillment, we must not allow work to overshadow our commitment to and time with our wives first, and also to our children.  Work hard, work well, work to the honor of Christ, and then put work to rest.

9. Sexuality.   My wife is my only legitimate sexual experience, and I am hers.  So, learning to love sexually with increasing skill and pleasure is vitally important to the satisfaction and intimacy of our marriage.  See human sexuality for what it is — the good gift of God to be experienced in marriage, as God has designed.

10. Home.   She cares much about our home.   The “honey-do” list is far more important to her than she is likely to let on.  In love for her, I must pay attention to her requests and treat them as important.  But more important even than this is cultivating the “culture” and “ethos” of our home.  Develop an atmosphere of appreciation, respect, kindness, service, holiness, happiness, gratefulness, contentment, forgiveness — all as expressions of our love for God and one another.

My only other word on the talk would be that in the case of Dr. Ware, these words are backed up by a faithful life.  It’s one thing to hear people talk about manhood directed to the glory of God; it’s another to live it.  Dr. Ware excels at husbanding, fathering, leading, and teaching.  He has much to teach you and me, and I hope that these resources bless you and contribute to the revival of robust biblical manhood in our day.

Study shows that Facebook and social networks contribute to divorce

via http://blogs.smartmoney.com

In fact, lawyers say the social network contributes to an increasing number of marriage breakups.

More than a third of divorce filings last year contained the word Facebook, according to a U.K. survey by Divorce Online, a  legal services firm. And over 80% of U.S. divorce attorneys say they’ve seen a rise in the number of cases using social networking, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. “I see Facebook issues breaking up marriages all the time,” says Gary Traystman, a divorce attorney in New London, Conn. Of the 15 cases he handles per year where computer history, texts and emails are admitted as evidence, 60% exclusively involve Facebook.

“Affairs happen with a lightning speed on Facebook,” says K. Jason Krafsky, who authored the book “Facebook and Your Marriage” with his wife Kelli. In the real world, he says, office romances and out-of-town trysts can take months or even years to develop. “On Facebook,” he says, “they happen in just a few clicks.” The social network is different from most social networks or dating sites in that it both re-connects old flames and allows people to “friend” someone they may only met once in passing. “It puts temptation in the path of people who would never in a million years risk having an affair,” he says. Facebook declined to comment.

Click here to read the rest of this story at  http://blogs.smartmoney.com

 

 

If you are getting married you have to watch this video!

The story of Ian & Larissa. Read more about it here.

Please share this video with couples you know that intend to get married or with a couple is having struggles  in their marriage.

here is the book Larissa mentions (can be a valuable wedding gift)

via desiringGod.org

Some very good thoughts on marriage for June, the traditional month for weddings – for Singles and (especially) for Married Couples

The more I read the Puritans, the more I learn how much respect I should have for those people of God who lived before us and the wisdom God gave them. One such group of people is the Puritans. The Puritans were a significant grouping of English Protestants in the 16th and 17th centuries. Puritanism in this sense was founded by some Marian exiles from the clergy shortly after the accession of Elizabeth I of England in 1559, as an activist movement within the Church of England. Puritans by definition felt that the English Reformation had not gone far enough, and that the Church of England was tolerant of practices which they associated with the Catholic Church. They formed into and identified with various religious groups advocating greater „purity” of worship and doctrine, as well as personal and group piety. You can read these additional posts on the Puritans:

I came across this writing from Richard Baxter, written as an exhortation for men and women  on the treatise of marriage. What is truly impressive, is the understanding that Baxter has of women, and the sensitive treatment he accords them in the marriage relationship. For example here are a couple of points that are very well made:

  • in point#9 he says – Don’t magnify her imperfections until they drive you crazy. (Consider also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you.)
  • in point#11 he says – A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife.
  • point #3 he says – Fighting chills love, fighting makes your spouse undesirable to you in your mind.
  • in point #7 he says – Your dissension will expose you to the malice of Satan, and give him advantage for many, many temptations.
  • Do not forget that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and do not act surprised about it, as if you had never known of it before. Decide to be patient with one another; remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons, and not as angels, or as blameless and perfect.

and my absolute favorite one:

  • Agree together beforehand, that when one of you is sinfully angry and upset the other shall silently and gently bear it until you have come to your sanity.

(This article could make a good wedding card stuffer)

Richard Baxter was a prominent English churchman of the 1600s. He was a peacemaker who sought unity among Protestants, and yet he was a highly independent thinker and at the center of every major controversy in England during his lifetime.

He was a true statesman; „In necessary things, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, charity,” he was fond of saying. Baxter, for his part, did his best to avoid the disputes between Anglicans, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, and other denominations, even convincing local ministers to cooperate in some pastoral matters. The interest in cooperation was not due to a lack of conviction. Among his more than 200 works are long, controversial discourses on doctrine. Still, he believed society was a large family under a loving father, and in his theology, he tried to cut between the extremes.

The Mutual Duties Of Husbands And Wives Towards Each Other

by Richard Baxter (1615­-1691)

From Puritansermons.com Extracted and modernised with apologies
by Scott Andersen

Selfish ungodly persons everywhere enter into all kinds of relationships with a desire of serving their ownselves, and gratifying their own flesh without knowing or caring what is required of them. Their desire is for the honour, profit, or pleasure their relationship will provide them but not for what God and man requires or expects from them. [Gen 2:18, Prov 18:22] Their mind is concerned only with what they shall have and not for what they shall be and do. (1)

They know what they want others to do for them, but do not care what their duty is to do for others. This is the way it is with too many husbands and wives.

We should be very concerned to know what the duties of our relationships are. And how we can please God in our relationships. Study and do your part, and God will certainly do his.

Direct. I. The first duty of husbands is to love their wives (and wives their husbands). Eph 5.25,28,29,33. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.­­So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies; he that loveth his wife, loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church.­­Let every one of you in particular so love his wife, even as himself.” See Gen 2.24.

Some directions for maintaining love are as follows:

1. Choose a good spouse in the first place. A spouse who is truly good and kind. Full of virtue and holiness to the Lord. (2)

2. Don’t marry till you are sure that you can love entirely.

3. Be not too hasty, but know beforehand all the imperfections which may tempt you to despise your future mate. (3)

4. Remember that justice commands you to love one that has forsaken all the world for you. One who is contented to be the companion of your labours and sufferings, and be a sharer in all things with you, and that MUST be your companion until death. (4)

5. Remember that women are ordinarily affectionate, passionate creatures, and as they love much themselves, so they expect much love from you.

6. Remember that you are under God’s command; and to deny marital love to your wives, is to deny a duty which God has urgently imposed on you. Obedience therefore should command your love.

7. Remember that you are “one flesh”; you have drawn her to forsake father and mother, and to cleave to you; (5)

8. Take more notice of the good, that is in your wives, than of her faults. Let not the observation of their faults make you forget or overlook their virtues. (6)

9. Don’t magnify her imperfections until they drive you crazy.

Excuse them as far as is right in the Lord. Consider the frailty of the sex. Consider also your own infirmities, and how much your wives must bear with you. (7)

10. Don’t stir up the evil of your spouse, but cause the best in them to be lived out. (8)

11. Overcome them with love; and then they will be loving to you, and consequently lovely. Love will cause love, as fire kindleth fire. A good husband is the best means to make a good and loving wife. (9)

12. Live before them the life of a prudent, lowly, loving, meek, self­denying, patient, harmless, holy heavenly Christian. (10)

Direct. II. Husbands and wives must live together. 1 Cor 7:2­5

Direct III. Abhor not only adultery itself, but all that leads to unchasteness and the violation of your marriage­covenant. [Mat 5.31,32; 19:9; John 8,4­5, of adultery; Heb 13.4; Prov 22.14; Hos 4.2­3; Prov 2.17; 1 Cor 6.15,19; Mal. 2.15; Prov 6.32,35; Deu 23.2; Lev 21.9; 18:28; Num 25.9; Jer 5.7­9]

Direct. IV. Husband and wife must delight in the love and company, and lives of each other. When husband and wife take pleasure in each other, it unites them in duty, it helps them with ease to do their work, and bear their burdens; and is a major part of the comfort of marriage. [Prov 5.18,19]

Direct. V. It is your solemn duty to live in quietness and peace. To avoid every occasion of fierce anger and discord.

[I. Directions showing the great necessity of avoiding dissension.]

1. The duty of your marriage­union requires unity. Can you not agree with your own flesh?

2. Division with your spouse will pain and upset your whole life … Just as you do not wish to hurt your own self and are quick to care for your own wounds; so you should take notice of any break in the peace of your marriage and quickly seek to heal it. 3. Fighting chills love, fighting makes your spouse undesirable to you in your mind. Wounding is separating; to be tied together through marital bonds while your hearts are estranged is to be tormented. To be inwardly adversaries, while outwardly husband and wife turns your home and delight into a prison. (11)

4. Dissension between the husband and the wife disrupts the whole family life; they are like oxen unequally yoked, no work can be accomplished for all the striving with one another.

5. It greatly makes you unfit for the worship of God; you are not able to pray together nor to discuss heavenly things together, nor can you be mutual helpers to each other’s souls. (12)

6. Dissension makes it impossible to manage your family properly.(13)

7. Your dissension will expose you to the malice of Satan, and give him advantage for many, many temptations. (14)

[II. Directions for avoiding dissensions.]

1. Keep alive your love for one another. Love your spouse dearly and fervently. Love will suppress wrath; you cannot be bitter over little things with someone you dearly love; much less will you descend to harsh words, aloofness, or any form abuse. (15)

2. Both husband and wife must mortify their pride and strong self­ centered feelings. (16 ) These are the feelings which cause intolerance and insensitivity. You must pray and labour for a humble, meek, and quiet spirit. A proud heart is troubled and provoked by every word that seems to assault your self­esteem.(17)

3.Do not forget that you are both diseased persons, full of infirmities; and therefore expect the fruit of those infirmities in each other; and do not act surprised about it, as if you had never known of it before. Decide to be patient with one another; remembering that you took one another as sinful, frail, imperfect persons, and not as angels, or as blameless and perfect. (18)

4. Remember still that your are one flesh; and therefore be no more offended with the words or failings of each other, than you would be if they were your own. Be angry with your wife for her faults no more than you are angry with yourself for your own. Have such an anger and displeasure against a fault, as will work to heal it; but not such as will cause festering and aggravation of the diseased part. This will turn anger into compassion, and will cause you to administer care for the cure. (19)

5. Agree together beforehand, that when one of you is sinfully angry and upset the other shall silently and gently bear it until you have come to your sanity. (20)

6. Have an eye to the future and remember that you must live together until death, and must be the companions of each other’s lives, and the comforts of each other’s lives, and then you will see how absurd it is for you to disagree and upset each other.(21)

7. As far as you are able, avoid all occasions of wrath and quarreling, about the matters of your families.(22)

8. If you are so angry that you cannot calm yourself at least control your tongue and do not speak hurtful and taunting words, talking it out hotly fans the fire, and increases the flame; (Do not ventilate your anger as you only feed your fleshly vengenance) Be silent, and you will much sooner return to your serenity and peace.(23)

9. Let the calm and rational spouse speak carefully and compellingly reason with the other (unless it be with a person so insolent as will make things worse). Usually a few sober, grave admonitions, will prove as water to the boiling pot. Say to your angry wife or husband, “You know this should not be between us; love must put it to rest, and it must be repented of. God does not approve of it, and we shall not approve of it when this heat is over. This frame of mind is contrary to a praying frame, and this language contrary to a praying language; we must pray together; let us do nothing contrary to prayer now: sweet water and bitter come not from one spring”, etc. Some calm and condescending words of reason, may stop the torrent, and revive the reason which passion had overcome.(24)

10. When you have sinfully acted towards your spouse confess to one another; and ask for forgiveness of each other, and join in prayer to God for pardon; and this will act as a preventative in you the next time: you will surely be ashamed to do that which you have confessed and asked forgiveness for of God and man.(25)

Direct. VI. One of the most important duties of a husband to his wife and a wife to her husband is to carefully, skillfully, and diligently help each other in the knowledge and worship, and obedience of God that they might be saved and grow in their Christian Life.

1. This is not love, when you neglect each other’s soul.(26 ) Do you believe that you have immortal souls, and an endless life of joy or misery to live? Then you MUST know that your great concern and business is, to care for those souls, and for the endless life. Therefore if your love does not help one another in this which is your main concern, it is of little worth, and of little use. Every thing in this world is as valuable as it is useful. A useless or unprofitable love, is a worthless love. It is a trifling, or a childish, or a beastly love, which helps you but in trifling, childish, or beastly things. Do you love your wife, and will leave her in the power of Satan, or will not help to save her soul? What! love her, and yet let her go to hell? and rather let her be damned than you will be at the pains to endeavor her salvation? Never say you love them, if you will not labour for their salvation.

What then shall we say of them that do not only deny their help, but are hinderers of the holiness and salvation of each other! [1Kings 11.4, Acts 5.2, Job 2.9] And yet (the Lord have mercy on the poor miserable world!) how common a thing is this among us! If the wife be ignorant and ungodly, she will do her worst to make or keep her husband in the same state as she is herself; and if God put any holy inclinations into his heart, she will be like water to the fire, to quench it or to keep it subdued; and if he will not be as sinful and miserable as herself, he shall have little rest. And if God open the eyes of the wife of a bad man, and show her the necessity of a holy life, and she resolves to obey the Lord, and save her soul, what an enemy and tyrant will her husband be to her ( if God does not restrain him); so that the devil himself will do no more to prevent the saving of their souls than ungodly husbands and wives do against each other.

2. Consider also that you are not living up to the design of marriage, if you are not helping each other’s souls.(27)

3. Consider also, if you neglect each other’s souls, what enemies you are to one another, and how you are preparing for your everlasting sorrows: when you should be preparing for your joyful meeting in heaven, you are laying up for yourselves everlasting horror.(28)

Therefore without a moment’s hesitation determine to live together as heirs of heaven, and to be a helper to one other’s souls. To assist you in this holy pursuit I will give you these following directions, which if you will faithfully practice, may make you to be special blessings to each other.

Direct. I. Before you can help to save each other’s souls you must be sure of your own. You must have a deep and living understanding of the great eternal matters of which you are required to speak to others about. If you have no compassion for your own soul and will sell it for a moment of ease and pleasure, surely then you have no compassion for your spouse’s soul.(29)

Direct. II. Take every opportunity which your nearness provides to be speaking seriously to each other about the matters of God, and your salvation.(30 ) Discussing those things of this world no more than required. And then talk together of the state and duty of your souls towards God, and of your hopes of heaven, as those that take these for their greatest business. And don’t speak lightly, or unreverently, or in a rude and disputing manner; but with gravity and sobriety, as those that are discussing the most important things in the whole world. [Mark 8:36]

Direct. III. When either husband or wife is speaking seriously about holy things, let the other be careful to cherish, and not to extinguish the conversation.(31)

Direct IV. Watch over the hearts and lives of one another, judging the condition of each other’s souls, and the strength or weakness of each others sins and graces, and the failings of each others lives, so that you may be able to apply to one another the most suitable help. (32)

Direct. V. Do not flatter one another from a foolish love.(33 ) Neither meanly critise one another. Do all in true, Godly love. Some are so blinded to the faults of husband, wife or child that they do not see the sin and wickedness in them. They are deluded concerning their eternal souls. This is the same as it is with self­ loving sinners and their own souls, willfully deceiving themselves to their damnation. This flattering of yourselves or others, is but the devil’s charm to keep you from effectual repentance and salvation. On the other hand, some cannot speak to one another of their faults, without such bitterness, or contempt, which will cause them to refuse the medicine that could save them. If the everyday warnings you make to strangers must all be offered in love, much more between the husband and wife.

Direct. VI. Keep up your love to one another, do not grow distant. For if you do, you will despise each other’s counsels and reproofs.

Direct. VII. Do not discourage your spouse from instructing you by refusing to receive and learn from their corrections.(34)

Direct. VIII. Help each other by reading together the most convicting, cutting, life­giving books. The ones most spiritual. Do not waste your time on light, weak, milk­toast ministries and books. Make friendships together with the holiest persons. This is not neglecting your duty to one another, but that all the helps working together may be the more effectual.(35)

Direct. IX. Don’t Conceal the state of your souls, nor hide your faults from one another. You are as one flesh, and should have one heart: and as it is dangerous for a man to be ignorant of his own soul so it is very hurtful to husband or wife to be ignorant of one another, in those areas where they have need of help.(36)

Direct X. Avoid as much as possible different opinions in religion.

Direct. XI. If different religious understandings come between you, be sure that you manage it with holiness, humility, love, and peace, and not with carnality, pride, uncharitableness, or contention.

Direct. XII. Do not either blindly indulge each others faults nor be too critical of each other’s state, allowing Satan to alienate your affections from one another.

Direct. XIII. If you are married to one that is an ungodly person, yet keep up all the love which is due for the relation’s sake.(37)

Direct XIV. Join together in frequent and fervent prayer. Prayer forces the mind into sobriety, and moves the heart with the presence and majesty of God. Pray also for each other when you are in secret, that God may do that work which you most desire, upon each other’s hearts.

Direct. XV. Lastly, Help each other by an exemplary life. Be yourself, what you desire your husband or wife should be; excel in meekness, and humility, and charity, and dutifulness, and diligence, and self­denial, and patience.(38 )

Direct. VII. Another important duty in marriage is, to help in the health and comfort of each other’s bodies. Not to pamper each other’s flesh, or cherish the vices of pride, or sloth, or gluttony, or the sensual pleasures in each other; but to increase the health and vigor of the body, making it fit for the service of the soul and God.

1. In health, you must be careful to provide for each other (not so much pleasing as) wholesome food, and to keep each other from that which is hurtful to your health; warning each other from the dangers of gluttony and idleness, the two great murderers of mankind.(39)

2. Also in sickness, you are to be caring of each other; and not to spare any costs or pains, by which the health of each other may be restored, or your souls confirmed, and your comforts cherished.(40)

Direct. VIII. Another duty of husbands and wives is, to be helpful to each other in their worldly business and estates. Not for worldly ends, nor with a worldly mind; but in obedience to God, who will have them labour, as well as pray, for their daily bread, and has determined that in the sweat of their brows they shall eat their bread; and that six days they shall labor and do all that they have to do; and that he that will not work must not eat.(41)

Direct IX. Also you must be careful to guard the honour of one another. You must not divulge, but conceal, the failings of each other; The reputation of each other must be as dear to you as your own. It is a sinful and unfaithful practice of many, both husbands and wives, who among their friends are discussing the faults of each other, which they are required in tenderness to cover up. MANY peevish persons will aggravate all the faults of their spouse behind their backs.(42 )

Direct X. IT is your marriage duty to assist one another in the education of your children.(43)

Direct XI. It is your marriage duty to assist each other in charity.(44)

Direct XII. LASTLY, it is a great DUTY of husbands and wives, to help and comfort one other in preparing for a safe and happy death.(45)

1. In the time of health, you must often and seriously remind each other of the time when death will make the separation; and live together daily as those that are still expecting the parting hour….Reprove everything in one another, which would be an unwelcome memory at death. If you see each other dull and slow in heavenliness, or living in vanity, worldliness, or sloth, as if you had forgotten that you must shortly die, stir up one another to do all without delay which the approach of such a day requireth.

2. And when death is at hand, oh then what abundance of tenderness, and seriousness, and skill, and diligence, is needful for one, that hath the last office of love to perform, to the departing soul of so near a friend! Oh then what need will there be of your most wise, and faithful, and diligent help!….They that are utterly unprepared and unfit to die themselves, can do little to prepare or help another. But they that live together as the heirs of heaven, and converse on earth as fellow travellers to the land of promise, may help and encourage the souls of one another, and joyfully part at death, as expecting quickly to meet again in life eternal.

THE END


No doubt much of the original force and poetry has been lost in my feeble attempt to modernise. It was only my hope to make this treatise available and understandable to the reader who has not accustomed himself to reading and understanding the language of our King James Version Bible. This work was found in Volume I, Baxter’s Practical Works, A Christian Directory, page 431­438. Also available upon request is a Bible study where the scriptures reflecting on each point in Baxter’s above treatise are listed. (Contact Scott Andersen, email: sdandersen@juno.com) It would be hoped that the hearing of God’s word regarding the mutual duties of Husbands and Wives will further strengthen your conviction and provide help to your soul to live as Faith requires. Lastly I would like to relate what a very wise man once told me: “If you are having troubles with your spouse it is not because of what you think of him or her, it is not because of negative thought patterns, it is not because you haven’t first loved self. But it is what you think of Jesus. Do you love Him FIRST? Do you live for Him FIRST? Is your life, his? If you are right with Jesus Christ the King of Glory, then it will be right with your husband or your wife. And this is what is right with God.”

FOOTNOTES

Some of the following scripture references are found in Baxter’s Work, others I have added in hopes of increasing your edification.

1 Luk 6:31­32; 1Cor 10:24; Gal 6:2; Phil 2:4; 2tim 3:2; Jam 2:15; 1Joh 3:17; Gen 4:9; 1 Sam 25:3­11; Esth 6:6; Isa 56:11; Joh 6:26
2 Pro 18:22; Pro 19:13­14
3 Pro 18:13
4 Mat 5:32; Mat 19:9; 1Cor 7:39; Col 3:19; Gen 2:24
5 Mat 19:5; Mar 10:7
6 1 Cor 13:7; Phil 2:3
7 Psa 103:14; 1Cor 13:7
8 Pro 10:12
9 Rom 12:21; 1Pet 3:9
10 Eph 4:1; Col 1:10; 1The 2:12; Pro 11:30; 1Tim 4:16; Jam 5:19­20; 1Pet 3:1­2
11 Pro 19:13
12 Mat 5:23; 1Sam 15:22
13 Mat 12:25; Mar 3:25; Luk 11:17
14 Jam 1:13; 1Cor 7:5; Job 2:9
15 Lev 19:8; Psa 133:1; Pro 15:17; Rom 12:10; Rom 14:19; Rom 15:1; 1Cor 13:4­7
16 Luk 9:23; Psa 101:5; Prov 16:5; Prov 21:4; Prov 28:25; Mat 23:12; 1Pet 5:6
17 Psa 10:4; Hos 7:10; Prov 13:10; Prov 28:25
18 Jer 17:9; Rom 7:24; 1Joh 1:8
19 Eph 4:26; Eph 4:32; Jam 1:19
20 Eph 4:2; 1Cor 13:4
21 Ecc 9:9; Rom 7:2
22 Gen 2:24
23 Gal 5:15; Jam 3:5,6,8
24 Pro 15:18; Mat 5:9; Psa 85:8
25 Eph 4:32; Jam 5:16
26 2Cor 2:4; 2Cor 12:15; 1The 2:8
27 Gen 2:18 1The 5:11; Eph 4:16; Heb 12:15; 1cor 7:5; Col 2:19; Gen 35:2; Gen 35:4; Lev 19:17; Num 16:27; Num 16:32
29 Gen 2:18; 2Cor 13:5; Gal 6:3; Gen 25:29; Gen 25:34
30 Col 3:16; Heb 3:13; Heb 10:24
31 Pro 27:6; Pro 15:12; Pro 15:31; Pro 15:32
32 Heb 10:24
33 Eph 4:15; Eph 4:26­5:9
34 Pro 29:1
35 Eph 4:11­16
36 Jam 5:16; Eph 5:27­32
37 1Cor 7:13­14
38 1Pe 3:1; Joh 13:15; 1Tim 4:12; 1Cor 11:1; 1The 1:6; 2The 3:7­9;
Tit 2:6; Jam 3:17; 2Pe 1:5­8
39 1Cor 6:19; Deu 21:20; Pro 23:21; Pro 19:15; Pro 6:9; Pro 10:4;
2Th 3:10 Pro 19:24; Pro 20:13; Pro 23:21; Pro 24:33; Isa 56:10;
1Tim 5:13
40 Eph 5:29, Job 19:17
41 Pro 31; Tit 2:5; 1Ti 5:14; 1Ti 5:8; Ex 20:9,11; Ge 3:19; 1Th 3:10­12
42 Jam 4:11; Pro 17:9; 1Pet 4:8
43 Gen 18:19; Gen 35:2; Jos 24:14; 1Tim 5:14; Prov 31:1
44 Heb 13:2; Gen 18:6; Rom 12:13; 2Cor 9:6; Luk 16:9; 1Tim 3:2; 1Tim 5:10; Pro 11:20; Pro 11:28; Neh 8:1; Pro 19:17; Job 29:13; Joh 31:20 Acts 20:35
45 Deu 32:29; Psa 39:4; Psa 90:12; Rom 14:8; Heb 13:14; 1Pe 1:17; Psa 3:5; Psa 37:37; Psa 49:15; Psa 73:24; Psa 116:15; Pro 14:32; Ecc 7:1; Luk 16:22; Luk 23:43; 1Cor 15:51­57; 2Cor 5:1; 2Cor 5:4; 2Cor 5:8; Phi 1:20­23; 1The 5:9; 2Pe 1:11; 2Pe 1:14; Rev 14:13; Psa 23:4

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