Friday, November 4, 2011

Week 15: The Message of Grace

Scripture to reflect upon: Galatians 5:13
For you were called to be free, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

My husband and I have had a deep revelation of the gospel according to grace. It has quite literally transformed our walk with Christ. We see scriptures in a whole new light, and as Jesus said, our yoke is now easy, the way God intended it to be.

I know a few weeks ago I promised to use scriptures from Romans 12, but I want to divert our attention from that for a while and focus on the notion of grace and how it pertains to marriage.

Last night Jared and I were discussing how our perception of God has changed since relying solely on grace rather than the Law. I have noticed since I started viewing my opinion on the subject I am greeted with horrific looks of disbelief and uncertainty about my walk. I know many people don’t care for Joel Osteen’s ministry, or believe that grace is an easy way out and an excuse to do whatever we want. The best way, though, that I was able to describe it was by relating it to my marriage with Jared.

Jared loves me the way no other person on the planet has. He loves me during the good and the bad. Not once in our marriage has Jared ever doubted his decision to be married to me. Even when I’m at my worse, he adores me still. During those moments, Jared simply stands back, lets me vent, and quietly listens. Upon watching this and realizing that my outbursts don’t rile him up, I immediately find peace within and I’m able to let it go almost automatically, without hesitation.

This is the message of grace: Where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20).

Because of Jared’s amazing unconditional love for me, I have no desire to do anything to hurt him. Naturally, it became so easy to be “good” with Jared. In other relationships, I had to fight my desires to do bad, or go out, or not be tempted by other men. They were constant struggles. I was always kicking and screaming in every relationship before Jared. I was angry, restless, annoyed, frustrated, and love starved. Jared made it easy to be loved and to be loving.

This is the message of grace: God’s love brings out our natural ability to bear the fruit of the spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self control (Galatians 5:22)

Jared’s love (replace this with God’s love) is so perfect and so good, that it changed me for the better. I was finally able to rest in who I am and never feel ashamed about my past or my flaws. I’ve said it before, Jared found my flaws enduring, and even the first encounter with him as I was being rude and disrespectful, he felt drawn to me.

This is the message of grace: Christ has liberated us to be free (Galatians 5:1).

Because Jared loves me the way that he does, I aim at pleasing him. I desire to be good to him. My fleshly desires have been completely removed from me. I don’t need to seek out love in other places, because I know nothing I do will change his love for me.

This is the message of grace: Through the obedience of [Jesus] many will be made righteous (Romans 5:19).

Jesus served us…through love. Because of that love we are able to be righteous and good. It creates in us a desire to do good deeds, and to love others. In our marriages, we need to live the message of grace with one another. When we love fully and unconditionally, that is grace; and that grace will provoke our spouse to love us in return the same. It will literally transform their way of thinking and their relationship with you, the way Jared’s love for me changed me.

ACTION PLAN: Consider for a moment what your gut reaction is when your spouse does something upsetting. Do you start wishing they were another way, or begin fantasizing about being single again? Do you spend most of your time trying to change your partner, or punishing them for things they’ve done to hurt you?

My action plan for today is simple. I want you to consider God’s love for YOU, which includes an abundance of grace. Do you even know what grace means? It means favor or goodwill (kindness, love, benignity); a manifestation of favor (forgiveness, charity, mercifulness); mercy; clemency; pardon.

GO FURTHER: Take grace to the next level and project God’s love for you to your spouse! Again, reread what grace means and apply it in your marriage. Remember to love your spouse MORE when they irritate or aggravate you. Find ways to manifest favor and goodwill for your spouse.

Discuss grace with your spouse. Dig into God’s Word and study His grace. Discover how you can incorporate grace into your partnership with one another.

FACT: Living by grace and not by works manifests the fruits of the Spirit.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Week 14: KEEP OUT!

Scripture to reflect upon: Hebrews 13: 4 (The Message)
Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband.

The whole world wants to talk about sex. Everywhere we look or turn, it’s sex, sex, sex. There’s nothing sacred or intimate about sex anymore.

As a way to earn some money last year, I became a Passion Parties Consultant—selling adult toys to women. I didn’t choose this particular business because of the products, I decided to become a consultant because the money was so promising and good. I made top sales every month, but my soul grieved with every party I did. I tried so many unique ways to avoid selling sex, and instead try and sell the notion of intimacy. That can’t work in a world where women are being sold this idea that having numerous sexual relationships are entirely acceptable.

The value of sex has decreased much like the value of the dollar. It’s worthless. When we can find sex just about anywhere we go or in anything we do, what’s the worth anymore? When sex loses the intimacy factor, all else is lost. And today’s society encourages us to chatter endlessly on and on about it.

I was currently hired to rewrite some articles for a romance website. Unfortunately, the topics are not based around “romance” as implied, but instead focus on using sex as a means of getting what we want in our relationships. We have misconstrued romance as sex. We have misplaced intimacy and allowed too many people into our bedroom.

One of the things that bothered me most about being a Passion Parties Consultant was the disgusting nature of the conversations I'd overhear. The filth and lust that ensued from these women lurked in my spirit and typically left me feeling drained. In women’s quest to be equal, they have demeaned themselves into the very type of men they despise who only look for sex. By constantly talking about sex, not only do we minimize the value of marital sex, but we also reduce our own worth. We make sex as empty and trashy as a reality television show.  

Sex between a wife and husband should remain just that: between a wife and husband. Neither one of them should be calling their best friend and telling them the intimacies of their bedroom. By doing so, you have just invited more people into your bed. “God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex” (end of verse 4). Do you really want your best friend to know about your husband’s private pleasures? It’s a thought they carry with them from that point on. Do you really want your best friend to visualize your wife naked? Then don’t EVER discuss your sexual relationship with anyone outside of your marriage! Stop minimizing intimacy, and rediscover the sacredness of sex with your spouse. Stop allowing the world into your bedroom, and make your sex life private and personal, something of great worth and value.

ACTION PLAN: Your spouse may be the best lover in the world, but no one else needs to know that! Resist the urge to blab on and on about your sex life with outsiders—I don’t care how close you are to them, they should be outsiders when it comes to this area of your life. Would you welcome your friends in the bedroom to sit and watch? Probably not! God, I hope not! But that’s what you do every time you share bedroom secrets. You have given them the key to your room to watch any time.

GO FURTHER: When your friends start to tell you about their sex life, stop them! Tell them that their sex life with their spouse is an intimate and personal connection that you don’t need to know about. Keep your friends out of your bedroom, and stay out of your friend’s bedroom, too! Learn how to put up a mental “KEEP OUT” sign on the intimate parts of your marriage.

FACT: “The marriage bed [should be] kept pure…”

Friday, October 21, 2011

No Post

I am off to a weekend retreat on becoming a Proverbs 31 Woman. So there will be no post today. If you are so inclined, feel free to read Proverbs 31, both men and women, and try to determine what that means, or could mean for your marriage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Week 13: Who's Right and Who's Wrong

Scripture to practice for Relationship Revival Week 13:
Romans 12:3
“Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.”

Over the next few weeks, I’d like to explore Romans 12 in detail, as God has jam packed tons of helpful tips for us as couples in that chapter. We'll start with verse 3, today’s scripture.

One thing human nature predicts is that we always need to be right. We need the last word. We need to be better than everyone else. And when it comes to relationships, that can be the death of us.

This dire need to always be right suffocates good marriages. How often have you gotten into enormous fights over who’s right and who’s wrong? How many times have you found yourself unwilling to give in because you thought you knew better than your spouse? Of course this is a major pride issue, and we all know that in order to have healthy, loving relationships, we sometimes—always—need to put our pride aside.

That’s why this scripture tells us to think of ourselves with “sober judgment.” When we are prideful, it’s hard to see ourselves in the true light of day. It’s how children view the world when the sun goes down and darkness misrepresents everything around them. Suddenly, the things they saw all day now make them anxious. When we are living in pride, we are living in darkness, and the way we see ourselves is typically not accurate.

Why do we feel the need to be right all the time? And what will it hurt to admit when we don’t know something, or confess we were wrong? We sometimes make marriage a competition with our spouse, always needing to better than them and insisting they are wrong about this or that. In our need to be right, we are incredibly wrong!

My study bible explains the second portion of this scripture, “God has given,” as power from God. “There can be no basis for a superior attitude or self-righteousness since our power comes from God.” When we insist we are right, we have taken God out of the picture. We give ourselves the glory, and in the process we demean the intelligence of our partner. We might as well call them “stupid,” because when we argue about who’s right and who’s wrong, we are insulting and offending them in cruel ways without even realizing the damage that’s being done.

Sure, it’s always nice to be right. I’ll admit, I’m right about a lot of things (see that awful PRIDE!), but I’m also wrong about a lot, too. I am the first one to admit my mistakes and take full responsibility for any wrong doings I’ve done, or any wrong information I’ve provided. I am incredibly outspoken about my political beliefs, but there are some topics I’m not well versed about, so I don’t bother getting caught up in debates about them. Instead, I like to gather information from both sides. I then let common sense and facts rule my decision on where I stand.

This need to be right in all things, all the time, will lead to destructive arguments, petty resentments, and hard feelings. Is being right worth more to you than your own marriage?

ACTION PLAN: Stop looking at yourself through the eyes of pride. Sober up and consider how it looks from God’s perspective. Measure it with the faith God has given you—the abilities He’s given you! Do not consider yourself above your spouse, but rather on equal ground.

GO FURTHER: Consider what your partner is saying to you instead of only wanting to be right. Take their points and opinions into consideration, and ask them nicely why they see it that way. You can also ask them to show you the evidence of their argument. Not in a mean spirited way, but try something like this: “That’s interesting. How did you come to that conclusion? Would you mind showing me? I’d like to understand it from your point of view.” Of course that sounds a bit cheesy, but you get the point.

When I first met Jared, he was convinced he was a die-hard liberal. But on our first date, upon asking me questions about my political reasonings, he soon realized that he held those same beliefs and they didn't jive with the liberal mindset. Sometimes when we ask questions and understand why our partner believes in one thing or another, we can be pleasantly surprised to find out we actually agree on something.

FACT: Forcing others into believing you are right often makes you look incredibly wrong.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Week 12: Let it Go

Scripture to reflect upon for Relationship Revival:
James 5:16 (The Message)
Live together whole and healed.

Stop holding that grudge against your husband. He said he was sorry a hundred times, didn’t he? So why, then, are you still mad and stomping around?

Let. It. Go.

When all is said and done, what does holding onto a past transgression do for you? Does it make you feel any better, or only worse? Does it resolve the issue, or only make the problem bigger than it really is?

You see, the small things—the ridiculous things—that couples typically fight about mean nothing in the long run. I spent most of my adult life struggling with men over dumb things that really didn’t mean anything except for the fact that I wasn’t perfect and that was the real problem they had with me.

Jared’s not perfect, and neither am I (believe it or not!). And yes, he does things that sometimes annoy the heck out of me, but in the larger scheme of things, my love for him overshadows all those silly things. I’d rather let it go then hang onto it and be mad at such a wonderful person for something so insignificant.

Jared sometimes doesn’t shut the shower curtain. So I shut it after he’s done. What would I solve by yelling at him? Would he shut it? Maybe. Or maybe he’d just become resentful that I would stoop so low as to get mad at him about the stupid shower curtain not being shut.

I want to live together with Jared, whole and healed. Those issues are my issues, not Jared’s, and I’m not going to make them his issues, either. And whenever I get mad at him for something so small and meaningless, I’m committing a greater sin against myself and God. So the second I feel anger struggling to surface, I remind myself that I can simply close the shower curtain myself and immediately that anger subsides. And what did it hurt me by closing it? It didn’t. It took me two seconds, tops, to shut it and that was that. I’m on my way with my day.

Jared is more important than a shower curtain. The man adores me and treats me like a princess. He respects me and showers me with love and kindness. The shower curtain could care less about me. In fact, it has no feelings about me whatsoever. Shower curtain? Jared?


ACTION PLAN: Live together whole and healed by releasing your sins. Let it go. Forget about it. Just move on. If it’s your issue, YOU deal with it, but don’t shove it on your spouse. And after you’ve dealt with it, don’t tell your partner that you dealt with it. Just do it and get over it. Don’t linger over coffee with it. Don’t entertain it. Don’t befriend it.

GO FURTHER: Confess to your partner about those piddly things that drive you nutty. But be wise with the words you choose. Don’t be accusatory and snotty. Be playful and cute about it. Present it in a funny way. Allow yourself to laugh at yourself, and allow your partner to laugh with you.

FACT: Nothing, besides God, is more important than your spouse.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Week 11: Real Revival

Scripture to reflect upon for Relationship Revival: Acts 6:7-8 (The Message)
The Word of God prospered. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased dramatically. Not least, a great many priests submitted themselves to the faith. Stephen, brimming with God’s grace and energy, was doing wonderful things among the people, unmistakable signs that God was among them.

You may be wondering what this scripture has to do with your love relationship and reviving it, but I will show you how you absolutely need to incorporate this scripture’s hope into your marriage.

We took last week off in hopes of everyone new to the site being able to catch up and grab hold of the simplicity of making a fresh start with a loved one. When my husband and I first decided to put something like this together, we thought of many clever things to call it, but what stood out to me most was the word, revival.

According to, the word revive means: 1. to activate, set in motion, or take up again; renew. 2. to restore to life or consciousness. 3. to make operative or valid again. 4. to bring back into notice, use, or currency. 5. to quicken or renew in the mind; bring back. 6. to reanimate or cheer (the spirit, heart, etc., or a person). 8. to return to life, consciousness, vigor, strength, or a flourishing condition. 9. to be quickened, restored, or renewed, as hope, confidence, suspicions, or memories. 10. to become operative or valid again.

Let’s take a look at some of the key words from the definition: activate, set in motion, renew, restore, operative, valid, bring back, quicken, reanimate, return, vigor, strength, flourishing. You may even notice that some of these words are used several times, such as: again.

When Christ came back to the disciples and prepared them to start the church, this is what it was all about: restoring hope, quickening spirits, renewing relationships with God, cheering up a depressed and oppressed people, validating lives, bringing them back to life, returning people to God through Jesus.

Jesus made us valid again. He renews us, restores us, quickens our spirit, gives us strength, and brings us back to a loving God who sincerely cares for us. The first church in Acts was literally “acting” on the Holy Spirit. They were reviving the people. It was the first-ever revival.

Reading, The Prayer of Jabez, author Bruce Wilkinson makes a profound declaration about that first revival. He confesses that without the Holy Spirit, that revival would have never taken place. Imagine, just for a second, had that revival not happened. Seriously…think about this. What do you think the world would be like? What would your life be like today had Jesus not “revived” you?

Just as Christ revived you, it’s now time to invite the Holy Spirit into your marriage, into your home, and into your family. It’s time for a real revival in your life!

ACTION PLAN: Let’s break down this scripture in real time/real life:
Make the Word of God prosperous in your marriage. Study scriptures together, welcome the Holy Spirit into your prayer time as a couple, and let God know that He is our family’s main source of life, hope, peace and joy. He is the center.

Work together as disciples for Christ. Start volunteering together and watch your blessings increase dramatically. Host a bible study in your home, and make your home a place of worship.

Be witnesses to others so that they, too, can submit themselves to the Jesus and revive their own relationships. Encourage others and watch how your relationship will blossom.

Brim with God’s grace and energy, do wonderful things among the people, and watch God do unmistakable signs among those you encounter.

GO FURTHER: Start your own relationship revival challenge with your friends and family. Tell them about this blog and how it’s helped. Encourage them to participate and take the weekly challenges. Start a Relationship Revival Home Group, and support one another in an effort to revive love, marriage and family.

FACT: The Holy Spirit is like a well of water that will never run dry. Go to it often and drink plenty!

If you start a home group based on my blog, please let me know. I’d love to hear how it’s working and what others are learning! My husband and I would even love to participate via Skype; or if you’re local, make a visit every now and then.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Get Ready for a Relationship Revival

Scripture to reflect upon to start your relationship revival: Psalm 85:10-13
Love and faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other. Faithfulness springs forth from the earth, and righteousness looks down from heaven. The Lord will indeed give what is good, and our land will yield its harvest.

For many years now, Jared and I have had a longing in our heart to share with other couples the things that make our relationship work so well. This doesn’t mean we’re perfect or we don’t have issues; but what we don’t have are “problems.” The problems we do have are typically outside sources, such as finances, family dramas, repairs, etc. These problems are things we share, not argue about.

Every relationship I’ve ever had with a man has always been filled with excessive turmoil and strife, anger and bitterness, and emotional—even sometimes physical—abuse. The last relationship I was in before Jared nearly killed me—literally. It was only when I surrendered completely to God whatever it was I was doing wrong and asked God to heal me, teach me and show me my worth, that I was able to find someone like Jared.

Jared and I do not argue. We do not fight. We almost never raise our voices at one another. We have only had, quite honestly, three instances where we actually fought. Two involved alcohol, several years ago. The other time, not too long ago, involved a smart phone and was entirely my fault, due to my lack of patience and distaste for technology.

We believe that the way we handle life, accept one another, and deal with “problems” are unique but simple actions and ideas. Any couple can easily incorporate them in their everyday living to resuscitate their relationship. This doesn’t mean your relationship is bad, or going down the tubes. Every relationship needs to be revived, or revved up, from time to time. Jared and I are going through a revival process right now, as a matter of fact.

How it Works:

·    Read the scripture and write it on an index card or post-it note. Read it every morning for 7 days. Post it in a place that you will see it often throughout the day. Make a copy for you and your partner.

·    The plan only works if both partners are involved. Make a commitment to one another and God that you will “actively” participate in each week’s Action Plan (AP).

·    I suggest journaling how the Scripture applies to you and your partner, how the AP is working for you, how your partner is responding, and if and how the AP is reviving your relationship.

·    At the end of the week, take some time alone with your partner to discuss how the AP affected you, how it changed you, how it helped you, and how it benefited you as a couple.

·    It’s not required, but it would be so great if at the end of the week you shared your experiences with me/us via email, or by leaving a comment after the original Relationship Revival posting.

Be on the lookout every Friday for a new perspective on how to revive your relationship.