Commitments for Great Marriages

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Recently my wife and I were having a conversation with some friends about marriages that have fallen apart. It saddens all of us to hear of family members, co-workers or friends who once enjoyed a happy marriage but now are experiencing the heartbreak of a broken marriage. Over this past year, I have had a front-row seat on both marriages that broke apart and that have been restored. For certain, there are few things more heartbreaking to me than to see a man and a woman, who had once stood at a wedding altar and vowed to be committed to each other until death would part them, parting in life. There is so much heartache, hurt and tears. Many observe these type of situations and a say, that will never happen to us! Believe me, I hope and pray it does not! However, maintaining a growing, close, open, committed marriage takes more than mere intentions and words. It takes work! What are some commitments you and I need to to make and keep in order to have great marriages?

Commitment to Jesus:

Genesis chapter two records for us the first marriage. It was designed by God. It was really great! God designed marriages as being between one man and one woman. Though society has redefined this, it does not change was is naturally and Biblically true. Many trying to make marriage work apart from God, but it was never intended to work without Him. One man said it this way, “If you want to be a good spouse, be a good Christian first.” Those who are in love with Jesus and His Word make the best spouses. Are you committed to Jesus about everything else in life—your dreams, your jobs, your family, your spouse? Who or what holds the highest place in your life? It needs to be Jesus! Does His Word have first place in your daily life? Do you prioritize serving Him by serving others in your church family? Do you demonstrate first love to by loving His followers and assembling with them? Are you committed to responding to His preached word with determined steps of growth. A lack of commitment to Jesus will always produce struggles in our marriages.

Commitment to Your Vows:

Do you remember standing at the wedding altar and saying something like this to your spouse? “I, ___, take thee, ___, to be my lawfully wedded husband/wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance; and thereto pledge myself to you.”  That is a serious vow! God says it this way in the Bible, “Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” (Ecclesiastes 5:5)  We should not enter vows with a mindset that we can break them if we change our mind or times get rough. If divorce is an option in your mind before you make the vow, then you should not make the vow. In fact, the word divorce ought be erased from your marriage vocabulary. Remain committed to your vows by the grace of God.

Commitment to Making it Better:

There are some marriages that remain “committed” to their vows in the strictest sense, but are cold. There is friction, years of unresolved differences, emotional baggage, little communication, fear of transparency and the list could go on. Publicly, the marriage is together, but privately it is not really twogether.  Great marriages do not just happen, they are diligently built and maintained. Marriages need regular investments. What will you do in the near future to make your marriage even better? One of the reasons my wife and I host a couples retreat is that we desire to help couples make their marriages better. There is room for improvement in every marriage, including mine. I encourage you to make it better!

Can you think of some other commitments that should be made in our marriages? I would love to hear what you think in the comments below! If you are struggling in your marriage, there is hope! God is able to do what we think is humanly impossible. Please seek counsel from your pastor. If you have been divorced, please know, that God love you no matter what and still has a beautiful plan for your life. While God hates divorce, He does not hate you! You can find all the healing you will ever need in seeking Jesus with all your heart. 

Also, I would like to invite you to join my wife and I at our church’s annual Couples Retreat on March 22-23, 2019, you can find out more about it here.  We pray that it would be a blessing to you!

 

Kindling Love and Commitment

Couple.jpgRelationships are an amazing gift from God! Beyond the relationship that God wants to have with us through Christ, the greatest relationship that can be had is found in marriage. Before we even get two chapters read in the Bible, we see marriage debuted. For a short while Adam and Eve knew perfect harmony with each other and their creator. In fact, their marriage was the only perfect marriage.

If we are honest, none of us have perfect marriages. There are times we argue, are unkind, exchange hurtful words, are unloving, show disrespect and the list could go on. Truly, every marriage that will be harmonious takes effort, commitment and an ever growing relationship with Jesus Christ by both husband and wife.  Marriage is a relationship to be kindled each day for sure. Consider kindling your marriage like this:

  1. Practice Love and Respect. God instructs husbands in Ephesians 5 to love their wives unconditionally. Regardless of the behavior the wife, the husband is to show love. The practical standard of this is the husband loving his wife as much as he loves himself. Guys, kindle your marriage by truly loving your wife even on her worst day. Wives, on the other hand, are told to respect their husbands. Often wives give respect based behavior. However, God tells wives to respect her husband no matter what. Respect is demonstrated when a wife encourages and does not belittle.  One man said, “A wife that is loved will grow in loveliness and a husband that is respected will become more respectable.”
  2. Practice Clearing the Air. When troubles and conflict do arise, be sure to settle them quickly. In all cases, never go to bed angry. The Bible warns us about letting the sun go down upon our wrath. Every night before you fall asleep, kindle your marriage by making certain nothing is unsettled.
  3. Practice Investing in your Marriage. There are many things that will drain a marriage of harmony and closeness. Even good things can be the culprit. Reading books on marriage, maintaining time alone, planning dates and including times to get away to focus on your marriage are all important ways to invest. One of the greatest reasons we Grace Baptist Church host a Couples Retreat is to provide a way for couples to invest in their marriages. Sitting under Biblical instruction for marriages will always be a worthwhile investment.

Will you plan to kindle your marriage today? Will you plan to do something in this week as an investment in your marriage?

 


Learn more about Couples Retreat

Lessons from Ten Years

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Sheila and I are celebrating our tenth wedding anniversary, and it is amazing to us how fast the time has flown. It literally seems like yesterday that we were getting to know each other, planning our wedding and honeymoon. Now we are looking back on a decade of marriage!

Today, as I reflect, I am reminded of the sweetness of a life following Jesus. I remember back to when marriage was a dream. God had to teach me a lot about waiting on Him. He taught me that if I would trust Him, He would intersect my life with the woman He created just for me. God did just that! I will never forget the day I first realized Sheila was the one for me. I saw a real, genuine, godly and fun loving young lady.  That was about twelve years ago now.  I have learned many lessons over these years. Here are a few of them.

  1. God is good all the time.
  2. God knows exactly what we need and can be trusted completely.
  3. Following God will always lead to the greatest blessing.
  4. Marriage is a journey—it keeps getting better as long as Jesus is the center.
  5. Any problem can be overcome with God’s help.
  6. Marriage is one of the greatest gifts God gives.
  7. God’s provisions are always on time and just enough.
  8. The Bible’s instructions can be trusted no matter what.
  9. Communication is one of the most essential keys to a harmonious marriage.
  10. Chocolate is always appropriate.

The Good Wife

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This year at Couples Retreat we were delighted to have Pastor Jeff Hargraves from Chapmanville, West Virginia with us. One of the resources given was Biblical descriptions of the good husband and wife.  These verses will help you to be the wife that God wants you to be. (Men, check out The Good Husband)
  1. Leaves Mom and Dad and cleaves to her husbandTherefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife:and they shall be one flesh. ​​(Genesis 2:24)
  2. Guards against the natural desire to supplant her husband​—Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. (Genesis 3:16)
  3. Productive in the home​​​​​​—Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vineby the sides of thine house:thy children like olive plantsround about thy table. Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the Lord. (Psalms 128:3,4)
  4. Builds her home with wisdom​​​​​—Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands. (Proverbs 14:1)
  5. Sees herself as precious and valuable—Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favour of the Lord. ​(Proverbs 18:22)
  6. Excellent because she fears God—​​​​​Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants ‘ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens. She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant. Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates. (Proverbs 31:10-31)
  7. Respects God and her husband​​​​​The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them. When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth. An hypocrite with his mouth destroyeth his neighbor: but through knowledge shall the just be delivered.  By the blessing of the upright the city is exalted: but it is overthrown by the mouth of the wicked. He that is void of wisdom despiseth his neighbour:but a man of understanding holdeth his peace. (Proverbs 11:3,7,9,11,12)
  8. Submits to her husband through love​​​​—Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Ephesians 5:22-24)
  9. Subject to her husband according to God​​​—Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3:18-19)
  10. Dresses modestly​​​​​​In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
  11. Loves her husband and teaches others the same​​​The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)
  12. Lives as an example for her husband​​​—​Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear. Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price. For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement. Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:1-7)
Plan to attend Ladies’ Retreat at Grace Baptist Church May 2-3, 2014 with Cathy Jackson. 

The Good Husband

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This year at Couples Retreat we were delighted to have Pastor Jeff Hargraves from Chapmanville, West Virginia with us. He and his wife, Ginger, were a real blessing to our couples. My wife and I really enjoyed the time to pause and invest in our relationship. In one of the sessions Pastor Hargraves went through a list of verses that describes a good husband and the good wife. Take sometime to read these verses and let them direct you to be a husband that pleases God.

  1. Dedicated to his wife’s happinessWhen a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business:but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken. (Deuteronomy 24:5)
  2. Satisfied with his own wife—Drink waters out of thine own cistern,and running waters out of thine own well.Let thy fountains be dispersed abroad, and rivers of waters in the streets. (Proverbs 5:15-16)
  3. Makes preparation—Prepare thy work without,and make it fit for thyself in the field; and afterwards build thine house. (Proverbs 24:27)
  4. Sees his wife as God’s reward—Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he hath given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion in this life, and in thy labour which thou takest under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 9:9)  House and riches are the inheritance of fathers: and a prudent wife is from the Lord. (Proverbs 19:14)
  5. Guards his spirit—And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. (Malachi 2:15)
  6. Submits his body to his wife—Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence:and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. (1 Corinthians 7:3-5)
  7. Understands his headship—But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
  8. Communicates openly with his wife—Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour:for we are members one of another. Be ye angry, and sin not:let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil. Let him that stole steal no more:but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. (Ephesians 5:25-32)
  9. Loves his wife as Christ loves the Church—Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church:and he is the saviour of the body. (Ephesians 5:22-23)
  10. Not bitter toward his wife—Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected:for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (Hebrews 12:14-17)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. (Colossians 3:18-19)
  11. Provides for his home—But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8)
  12. Understands his wife and honors her—Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. (1 Peter 3:7)

Part 2—The Good Wife will be posted later this week.