KEEP CALM AND MARRY ON c-Hows Contributing editors: Misty Foster, Nancy Reimann, Penny Rose, Yo Snyder contributors: Mary Bishop, Paul Bishop, Ray Del Toro, Maria Guy, Lenya Heitzig, Skip Heitzig, Jesse Lusko, Justin Marbury, Neil Ortiz, Kerry Rose, Kay Snyder, Laura Sowers, Nelson Walker editors: Colleen Claphan, Teresa Jones, Joan Polito, Jerry Rood Design: Khanh Dang Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New King James Bible. All rights reserved under international copyright conventions. No part of this booklet may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission from this publisher. Address Inquiries to: Calvary Albuquerque Connection Communications 4001 Osuna Road NE Albuquerque, NM 87109 505.344.9146 Printed in the United States of America ISBN: 978-1-886324-83-1 Text Copyright 2013 by Calvary Albuquerque All rights reserved. calvaryabq.org
Welcome from Skip Heitzig
07 09 11 13 15 17 19 21 23 25 27 29 31 33 35
Being Single but Sane Wanted: The Perfect Mate
Learning to Leave, Cleave, and Weave Family Relations
Resisting Temptation How to Deal with Temptation
Understanding the Gender Gap Part 1 Help! My Wife’s an Alien!
Understanding the Gender Gap Part 2 Help! My Husband’s a Caveman!
Dating for Christians Part 1 The Rules of the Game
Dating for Christians Part 2 Online Dating
Submitting to Your Spouse subMission Possible
Loving Like Jesus Tech Support for Husbands
Honoring “One Anothers” Do Unto Others First, Then Run!
Making a House a Home Your House, God’s Home
Leading Like a Man A Challenge to Choose
Giving Him What He Needs Retribution, Retaliation, or Romance
Getting Her in the Mood The Secret to What Wives Want
Conquering Lust Climbing Out of the Pit
37 39 41 43 45 47 49 51 53 55 57 61 63
Controlling the Tongue Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire
Controlling Anger How to Be Angry and Not Sin
Managing Money God’s Way to Handle Your His Money
Understanding Your Spouse’s Love Languages Parlez-Vous Marriage?
Coping with Health Issues A Prescription for Sick Days
Resolving Conflict How to Grow Closer as a Couple
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Parenting Secrets of a Happy Home
Honoring Your Spouse’s Parents How to Deal with In-Laws
Loving Your Unbeliever How to Live Unequally Yoked
Making Your Home Your Castle The Case for Companionship
Notes Additional Reading and Online Resources Keep Calm and Marry On Products
“...and they shall become one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
id you know that God was the first matchmaker? In the Garden of Eden, He recognized that “it is not good that man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). So God made Eve to overcome Adam’s problem—aloneness. She was to be “a helper comparable to him.” Some say this was the ideal situation: Adam didn’t have to hear about all the men Eve could have married and Eve didn’t have to listen to what a great cook Adam’s mother was! Marriage is the closest of all human relationships. Jesus revealed that when people marry “they are no longer two but one flesh” (Matthew 19:5). That alone makes marriage an institution we should cherish, nourish, and strive to improve. A godly marriage is a beautiful portrait to the world of Christ’s love for the church (see Ephesians 5:25-29). That’s why we devoted 22 weeks to an indepth look at marriage titled Keep Calm and Marry On, the series this handbook is based upon. The name for the series is based on the British poster from World War II: “Keep Calm and Carry On.” This effort was geared to bolster the people’s courage as they faced Nazi Germany. If you look at society today, you’ll notice that there is a war on traditional marriage. Divorce (even in the church) is rampant, immorality is applauded by the media, and sex outside marriage is an accepted norm. In the face of such attacks, we need to refocus our hearts on the sanctity of marriage; we need to exercise fortitude if we are to build marriages that honor our heavenly Father; we need to “Keep Calm and Marry On.”
In this guide, you will find information to help make your marriage a success. These “c-How” topics will help you see how Christians can make relationships work in very practical and godly ways. They cover a variety of subjects, from dating to dealing with in-laws, from anger management to managing your finances, from conflict resolution to delightful sexual relations. If you’re not currently married, these pages will help you discover what to look for in a potential spouse, if that is what God wills. We’ve also listed some great additional resources for you to explore on your own. Marriage was celebrated and blessed by Jesus at the wedding in Cana when He performed His first miracle. And we want to celebrate and bless your marriage through this life-changing guide. We believe it’s a match made just for you. Are you ready to Keep Calm and Marry On? Let’s do it!
In His strong love,
Being Single But Sane
Wanted: The Perfect Mate By Lenya Heitzig
ingles seeking the perfect mate often resort to desperate measures. Some go on blind dates orchestrated by well-meaning friends or loved ones. Others place want ads in local papers or seek help from online dating sites. Sadly, a few look for Mr. or Mrs. Right in all the wrong places—like a bar or nightclub instead of in a Bible study. Adam’s options were limited. After God paraded all living creatures before the man, he saw no “suitable companion to help him” (Genesis 2:20, TEV). God concluded that singlehood was “not good.” What was Adam to do? He might have asked, “How does a single person stay sane while flying solo?” Here are a few tips: • Serve God: Adam was alone, but he wasn’t lonely. He busied himself with God’s call on his life—naming animals. Intimacy with God shaped Adam into the kind of man a woman would want to marry. Adam’s spouse came in God’s perfect timing while he went about God’s business. • Stay open: Is your future-mate wish list realistic? A woman may want tall, dark, and handsome while a man seeks beauty, wit, and charm. Thankfully, God knows what we need more than we do. Leaving the door open for God to foresee the right qualities in your spouse makes it more likely you’ll discover a match made in heaven.
• Stay prayerful: No doubt when Adam noticed that all animals came in pairs—male and female—he discussed it with God. Who else could he talk to? God understands your desire for love. He placed it there. Perhaps God used the exercise of naming the animals to awaken a longing for a partner in Adam’s heart. Whether you’re young or old, pray continually for and about your future mate. Remember “not now” does not mean “no.” • See the obvious: The moment Adam met Eve, he knew they were meant for one another. Don’t overlook the people you already know. Perhaps your dream-come-true is standing right in front of you, or just around the corner at your job or church meeting. Keep your eyes and heart open. God works in mysterious ways. The first couple reminds us that God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our lives. Why do we make it so complicated? Whether in marriage, money matters, or moving plans, the solution remains the same. When you seek God, He’ll take care of the rest. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
Learning To Leave, Cleave, and Weave Family Relations By Justin Marbury
ne of the most common areas of conflict among newlyweds is family relations. The conversation may go something like this: Wife: “His mom criticizes everything I do. She thinks she’s the expert on everything.” Husband: “Mom’s just trying to help. She doesn’t mean anything by it. It’s just the way she is.” And so on. Neither party knows the proper response to the sudden conflict. Should he tell his mom to hold her tongue and not be so critical? Should she listen to her mother-in-law’s advice and try to welcome her critique? Learning to entwine two lives can be difficult. But when you follow the biblical principles of leaving, cleaving, and weaving, you can avoid some of the things that might tangle you up. 1. Leaving. God’s Word says: “A man shall leave his father and mother…” (Genesis 2:24). Marriage is a process of leaving behind your parents and moving toward your marriage partner. This is part of God’s design for His first and most foundational social institution—the family. Yet leaving can be the most difficult part of a new marriage. Here are some tips for both parents and their married kids:
Parents: Realize that your primary responsibility as a parent is complete. You’ve raised and loved your child to the altar. Now it’s time to step back and give your child space to develop his or her own family. Encourage your child to seek your advice and involvement, but don’t smother. 9
Kids: Recognize that your new family is number one now. Your husband, wife, and children come before any other family or friends. This doesn’t mean disrespecting your parents or disregarding their feelings. Involve them as much as you can. 2. Cleaving. “…And be joined to his wife…” (Genesis 2:24). For marriage to be what God intended, the couple must cleave to one another. This means, “to adhere or stick together.” All the hopes, dreams, plans, and purposes you held as individuals should be surrendered to the marriage unit. When two become one, it’s a new beginning—a new adventure—together and inseparable. 3. Weaving. “…And they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). Becoming one is more than consummating the marriage—it’s a complex process similar to weaving a tapestry. The weaver takes individual strands, each with its unique color and composition, and he creates something more beautiful than the individual threads. Likewise, God, the Master Weaver, takes a husband and wife, each surrendered to Him, and brings their individual, colorful personalities, gifts, and abilities into the union. The result is a skillfully woven, beautiful tapestry called marriage. Leaving, cleaving, and weaving is a challenging process. It’s easy to get tangled up if you don’t put God and one another first. A good marriage requires selfless service and surrender. When done well, the world can’t help but notice the beautiful tapestry and the Master Weaver whose skill is on display in your marriage.
RESISTING TEMPTATION HOW TO DEAL WITH TEMPTATION By Lenya Heitzig
emptation lurks in our hearts, eager to erupt at the perfect opportunity. Assuming alluring forms, temptation may glitter like gold, make your heart race, stroke your ego, or challenge you to compromise biblical principles. James warned that every human will face temptation as Satan exploits our feeble flesh: “Each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed” (James 1:14). How should believers deal with temptation? • Not a sin! You need to realize that being tempted is not a sin. Jesus, the sinless One, faced down this foe on the Mount of Temptation (see Luke 4:1-13). Martin Luther said, “I can’t keep the sparrows from flying around my head, but I can keep them from making a nest in my hair.” The trick is to resist temptation: “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). You don’t have to say “Yes” to the blonde bombshell, watch the provocative movie, or succumb to peer pressure. • Not always obvious! Satan doesn’t knock on your door wearing a red suit with horns and a pitchfork. Paul warned that the fallen cherub parades as an angel of light (see 2 Corinthians 11:14). The devil is a master deceiver. He wants to sell you a bill of goods. He’ll convince you that driving a new car will make your life complete. He’ll insist that divorce equals happiness. Often, he’ll twist God’s words like he did with Eve. Sometimes Satan’s words come from 11
your best friend’s lips. Remember? Jesus told Peter, “Get behind me, Satan!” (Matthew 16:23). The tempter is sneaky in his strategies.
• Not mysterious! When you discover the sources of temptation, victory is inevitable. Temptation springs from your heart, your deep desires. Desire can be translated “lust.” God has given us normal desires such as thirst, hunger, and sex. When natural desires are fulfilled scripturally, no sin occurs. But when we satisfy desires outside of God’s will, they become deadly lusts. For instance, eating is normal—gluttony’s sin. Sleep is necessary—laziness is sinful. Sex within marriage is good—out of its biblical context, it is sin. • Not from God! Matthew Henry wrote, “As God can not be tempted with evil himself, so neither can He be a tempter of others… The carnal mind is willing to charge its own sins on God.” There is something hereditary in blaming God. Our first father, Adam, told God, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). To believe that God tempts you reveals a warped view of your Heavenly Father. Jesus taught us to pray, “Do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13). God doesn’t set traps, Satan does. •
Not futile! Believe it or not, temptation is good for you! When you overcome temptation, God promises the reward of a crown of righteousness and a reputation as His crowning achievement (see James 1:12-18). So the next time the enemy tries to exploit your fleshly desire, just say no! God will rescue and reward you.
UNDERSTANDING THE GENDER GAP PART 1
HELP! MY WIFE’S AN ALIEN! By Yo Snyder
t’s more common than you’d think: A guy falls in love, gets married, and then he discovers…his wife is an alien! Oh, he knew men and women were different, but not like from-different-planets different! There were a few little hints when they were dating, but it wasn’t until marriage that the full truth was revealed. If this is you, don’t panic! Those differences can make life fun and exciting, while encouraging maturity and growth that will strengthen your marriage. Here are a few examples of how we can learn from our spouses and appreciate our differences. • Women Think Differently: It could be said that men’s brains are like waffles, and women’s are like spaghetti. Men tend to focus on one thing at a time while women are able to consider many unrelated topics simultaneously. This difference shows up in areas like scheduling: Typically, when a guy is asked if he can do something on a given day and nothing immediately comes to mind, he’ll assume his schedule is clear. A woman, on the other hand, instantly considers all the other activities happening on that day: household chores, kids’ music lessons or soccer practice, and getting the car in for a repair. In other words, she thinks on several different levels and balances all those elements that make for an organized schedule and life. •
Women Solve Problems Differently: Men are fixers. Women, however, aren’t always looking to fix a problem. 13
This is about as alien as it gets to a man. Sometimes a wife doesnâ€™t want step-by-step instructions for fixing something; instead, she wants us to listen, understand her feelings, and let her know we have confidence that she can handle it. This is a tough one to grasp, but offering a consoling shoulder instead of a heavy hand can produce a strong and vibrant marriage. â€˘
Women Worship Differently: Women tend to be emotionally engaged in their worship, while men are inclined toward analysis, fact checking, and practical application. A woman often feels her connection with God and seems to have an intuitive ability to enjoy Him. If a husband learns to appreciate those qualities and incorporate some of them, his own worship can be greatly enhanced.
Truth be told, the traits in women that seem a bit alien may be a needed catalyst for men to grow. There are benefits in learning how to multi-task, or listen without trying to fix every problem, or discover that we can engage both heart and mind in our own worship of God. Our differences bring a richness that would otherwise be lacking in our life. God made woman very different from man. And it is good.
UNDERSTANDING THE GENDER GAP PART 2
HELP! MY HUSBAND’S A CAVEMAN! By Kay Snyder
ave you ever wondered if your husband is from the era when men communicated in grunts and snorts and sat in their caves pounding a stone into a wheel? If you have, you are not alone. While your husband is not really a caveman, he is a unique and special gift whom God made very different from you. If you’re feeling like you married a Neanderthal, recognizing a few man-needs may help you understand your twenty-first century guy: • Men need space. While women tend to immediately vent about their stressful days, sometimes men need to wind down gradually in their “caves.” Whether that means taking a bike ride, reading a book, or playing a video game, your husband may need a little quiet time to himself after a long day. This doesn’t mean he’s upset with you or that he finds you unattractive. Rather than forcing him into conversation with a barrage of words and questions, use his wind-down time to do something for yourself. After a while, your husband will emerge from his cave, ready to relate to you. • Men want to fix things. God created men to be natural “fixers.” So when it comes to relational difficulties, it’s important to remember that when you share your problems with your husband, his natural response is to want to “fix it.” Sometimes his advice may be exactly what you need. At other times, tell him you just need him to listen and let you lean on his comforting shoulder. 15
• Men need focus. Have you ever gotten a distracted grunt from your husband when you’re trying to tell him about an upcoming event or activity? He may not be purposely ignoring you. He may just be focused on something else at that moment. God made men’s brains different from women’s. While women often multi-task (you can make cupcakes, plan a meeting, and consider redecorating the kitchen simultaneously), men are single-minded, tending to focus on one thing at a time. The next time you have something to discuss with your husband, try asking him for his undivided attention. Tell him what you have to say, and then give him time to process the information. You’ll be sure to hear fewer grunts in return. With his cave-time, fix-it tendencies, and one syllable responses, it may seem like your husband is practically prehistoric. But with a little understanding of his needs, you can begin to see your husband more as a gift from God—and less like a Neanderthal.
Dating For Christians PART 1
THE RULES OF THE GAME By Penny Rose & Misty Foster
f you are single, you know that the dating game can have some tricky rules—especially for a Christian. A variety of believers have differing dating standards. Most believe dating should have the intent of marriage. Some believe in courtship: a parentally supervised period of time for the couple to decide on marriage. Some decide to casually date as a way to evaluate potential mates. Others believe God will providentially bring the person you should marry. Whatever your view on dating and courtship, the goal is to keep your relationship Christ-centered by following some godly guidelines: • Pick wisely. Set your standards high by dating a believer. You will likely discover that you have the same morals, worldview, and priorities when you date within the faith. Do not date an unbeliever hoping you will be the one to convert them. Salvation is the Lord’s work—no “missionary dating.” • Pray continually. Seek God’s will and pray before you agree to date. If dating, pray for one another daily. Practice praying as a couple. Spending time in prayer together reveals a great deal about your relationship with God. • Talk openly. Get to know each other’s background, family traditions, and plans for the future. Before you decide to marry someone, you want to learn their philosophy on child-rearing, what they expect of you, how they intend 17
to spend the holidays, how they view financial planning, etc. Communication in a relationship is important and not something you want to try to establish after you say, “I do.” • Date cautiously. Agree to ground rules on physical affection. Covenant that any sexual contact will occur only after marriage. Make sure all you do honors the Lord. Group dating allows you to get to know each other in a wholesome environment and reveals how your date responds in social situations. Don’t allow yourself to get into situations that might tempt you to let your guard down (like a romantic candlelight dinner for two in your date’s apartment). Review the ground rules regularly. • Seek accountability. Ask a godly couple to act as supervisors. Another couple can guide you and keep you accountable in purity before the Lord. You might want to double date with this couple, do a Bible study together, and ask them to pray over your relationship and its future. Your pastor can also provide the insight and wisdom you need as you date. Dating can be a dangerous gambit if you follow the world’s ways. But it can be a delightful time so long as you “delight yourself in the LORD” (Isaiah 58:14). If you are dating, put God at the center of your relationship and trust Him to guide your steps…and lead you to your spouse.
DATING FOR CHRISTIANs PART 2
ONLINE DATING By Paul & Mary Bishop
n the 1840s, poets Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett courted over two years by exchanging 573 love letters. By the time they married, they knew each other deeply and had a very happy marriage. Times have changed—long distance love letters don’t always fit today’s hectic pace. What about using online dating to find your perfect match? While the Bible speaks clearly on issues such as abstaining from pre-marital sex and dating within the faith, it doesn’t provide instruction on how couples should meet. The internet may be an option, but it is a prime arena for deception. Pray for God’s guidance and practice the following tips to navigate the murky waters of online dating. • Be honest. An online profile is like a resumé; make it short and sincere. Don’t exaggerate successes or diminish less attractive qualities. Be clear about your goal: friendship, occasional dating, or marriage. Include a brief description of your faith, interests, hobbies, and life goals. • Be picture perfect. Be true in your visual statement. Don’t post a photo taken five years or twenty pounds ago. That way, when (or if) you meet, your photo won’t establish any distrust. • Be true to you. Neal Clark Warren, founder of eHarmony.com, says the most stable marriages are be19
tween people with many similarities. An athlete who runs every day, kayaks dangerous rivers, and needs four hours of sleep is probably not a good match for a quiet, cerebral bookworm. Present who you really are. • Be discerning. Don’t assume that because someone says he/she is a Christian, single, or financially independent that it’s so. Ask direct questions that clarify the person’s status and beliefs. And don’t ignore red flags! It’s better to discover deceptions or incompatibilities early than have heartbreak later. • Be patient. Take time to let the friendship develop before meeting face to face. Several months of correspondence is a good way to avoid a premature physical or emotional attachment. • Be accountable. Practice godliness in your speech, deeds, and keyboarding. Internet dating is still dating. Online conversations should be as holy and respectful as a conversation with Jesus. • Be Cautious. Be aware of potential dangers. Pay for a background check and/or get references before meeting. Meet in a public place with plenty of witnesses the first several dates. Then, introduce him/her to your friends and get their feedback. Whether meeting online, at church, or through a friend, make Christ the starting line and bottom line in any relationship. Honor Him by seeking His will and blessing, and He will honor how you welcome His rule and reign in your life—online and offline.
Submitting to Your Spouse subMission Possible By Lenya Heitzig
ew words evoke a more negative response from women than submission. Maybe we harbor images of submissive women that offend our sensibilities and threaten our self-image. Remember Edith Bunker, the “stifled” wife of the bigoted, dictatorial Archie Bunker from the 70s TV series All in the Family? Despite Archie’s selfish demands, insensitivity, and misspeak (“We better not kill our chickens before they cross the road”), Edith frantically ran to the fridge to fetch his beer, calmed his angry outbursts, defended his indefensible behavior, and lived under his thumb. Not exactly the kind of marriage most people want. If that isn’t what submission looks like (and it’s not!), how does God view submission? • What it is not: Submission within marriage is not oppression, blind agreement, ignorance, or domination. It is one of many biblical truths held in tension (such as faith and works, see James 2:17). Biblically, love and submission go hand in hand. When a husband loves his wife sacrificially, as Christ loves the church, his wife will gladly submit, reflecting the obedience of the church to Christ (see Ephesians 5:25-33). • What it is: God’s first act of creation was to bring order out of chaos. Submission reflects God’s order of things. Submission comes from a Greek word that describes how military troops are arranged under the command of a leader. As a human, a private is of no less value than 21
a general. To maintain order, the private submits to his general’s rank and position. Many relationships reflect this respectful obedience: wives to husbands, children to parents, employees to employers, youth to elders, citizens to rulers, church members to pastors and elders. • What it does: Theologian Richard J. Foster said, “In submission we are free to value other people. Their dreams and plans become important to us. We have entered into a new, wonderful, glorious freedom, the freedom to give up our own rights for the good of others. We can rejoice with their successes. We feel genuine sorrow at their failures. It is of little consequence that our plans are frustrated if their plans succeed. We discover that it is far better to serve our neighbor than to have our own way.” • What is the truth: God views women as equal to men: “There is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Yet for practical purposes, God tells humans to submit to government, servants to submit to masters, and wives to husbands (see 1 Peter 2 & 3). The result is peace and structure in our country, our workplace, and our homes. Is subMission Possible in twenty-first century marriages? Yes—by the Spirit of God in a life submitted to Christ. Keep in mind that our marriages are divine preparation for our future with Christ. Now is our opportunity to humbly arrange our marriage as God has designed it. It would be a shame if we, like Archie Bunker, had to say “It’s too late, Edith. My bus has sailed.”
Loving Like Jesus Tech Support for Husbands By Skip Heitzig
hat if your marriage problem came in the form of a tech support request? You may have seen this bit of humor: “Dear Tech Support, Last year I upgraded Girlfriend 1.0 to Wife 1.0. The new program took up more space. In addition, Wife 1.0 installed itself into all other programs and monitored all other system activity. Applications such as Boys Night Out 2.5 no longer run. I can’t seem to purge Wife 1.0 from my system. I am thinking about reinstalling Girlfriend 1.0, but it doesn’t work. Help!” Tech Support: “Dear Customer, Wife 1.0 is an operating system designed to run everything. Warning: Do not uninstall, delete, or purge Wife 1.0 from the system once installed. Trying to uninstall Wife 1.0 may destroy your hard drive. You cannot go back to Girlfriend 1.0 (see manual under Warning/Alimony/Child Support). Suggestions for improved operation of Wife 1.0: Number one, monthly use of utility such as TLC. Number two, frequent use of Communicator 5.0. Signed, Tech Support.” The best tech support for marriage is found in Scripture. In Ephesians 5, Paul tells husbands three ways to love their wives like Jesus Christ loves the church: 1) Sacrificial Love. 2) Sanctifying Love. 3) Secure Love. Let’s explore these types of love: 1. Sacrificial Love: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Jesus loved us enough to come to the earth, become a man, suffer, and die. Most men think, I’d 23
take a bullet for my wife. But the Bible isn’t asking you to die for your wife so much as live sacrificially. Make a meal for her. Go where she wants to go. Enter into her orbit of friends and fun. 2. Sanctifying Love: “That He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word” (Ephesians 5:26). Jesus’ love for us didn’t stop at the cross. His love continues as we grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. Husbands are to draw their wives away from worldly influences and closer to Jesus Christ. Some practical ways to do this are to read Scripture, do daily devotionals, and pray together. 3. Secure Love: “Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies” (Ephesians 5:28). In other words, a man’s wife is an extension of the man. He should care for her. When he does, there will be a sense of security. Some men stop saying, “I love you” to their wives until ten o’clock at night, then, “Ohhhh baby, I lo-o-o-o-ve you.” The wife suspects, No, you don’t love me…you want me. Your wife will feel secure in your love when you say you love her and act like you love her, again and again and again. Husband 1.0 may not begin by being perfectly compatible with Wife 1.0. We need to work through the glitches and processes and come out the other side—together. Your marriage can survive and ultimately thrive when you work at it and apply God’s principles through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Honoring “One Anothers” Do Unto Others First, Then Run! By Nelson Walker
hough we don’t like to admit it, many of us, because of our fallen nature, have found “Me first!” beats “You first!” Consequently, the “one another” commands found in God’s Word are often looked at as non-binding suggestions rather than divine dictates. When conflict comes, as it always does, we are stunned and confused because the foundation cannot support the structure. The problem is the nature of sin itself. Sin seeks to serve self first, God and others second. Serving one another with unselfish love first (see Ephesians 4) reverses the creeping tide of sin and conflict. In a perfect world, a couple would love one another in the same way Jesus Christ loved the church (see John 13:34). We would give ourselves for one another just as Jesus gave Himself for the church. We would then submit to one another in love. Husbands would do so by loving their wives as their own bodies and wives would respectfully submit to their loving husbands (see Ephesians 5:22, 30). As individual members of a couple we might wonder, What if I do what God commands by loving my spouse ahead of myself and my spouse does not respond? How you respond to God’s Word is not about what he or she does. Rather, it’s about your personal obedience to the “one another” commands found in God’s Word. 25
Though this looks both simple and good on paper, there is a fly in the ointment—we are sinners! As sinners, we’ll encounter conflict with one another. Practical Steps When Conflict Arises: 1. Self-examination (2 Corinthians 13:5) a. Is there something I need to deal with? b. Can I approach this peaceably? (see Colossians 3:15) 2. Honest and prayerful communication in the spirit of love (Ephesians 4:15) a. We are a team approaching a problem together b. Break the cycle of warfare by being a peace-maker 3. Focus on the “one another” commands a. Be at peace with one another (see Mark 9:50) b. Love one another (see John 13:34; Romans 12:10; 1 Peter 4:8; and 1 John 3:11; 4:7, 11, 12) c. Build up one another (see Romans 14:19; Ephesians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:11) d. Be of the same mind toward one another (see Romans 12:16) e. Give preference to one another (see Romans 12:10) “Me first” means that I react out of my wants, my needs, and my desires rather than proactively esteeming another better than myself. Our human battle cry is “What have you done for me lately?” or “If you do this, then I will do this!” This is the problem. We wait for the other to make the first move. Our inner thought is often, If he loves me, then I will respect him or If she respects me, then I will love her. Our love or respect becomes conditional on serving self first. How much better to live as God commands, by serving the other first with the unconditional love of Christ.
Making a House a Home Your House, God’s Home By Misty Foster
t’s been said “Home is where the heart is.” As believers, we are citizens of heaven, our ultimate home. Jesus said He has gone “to prepare a place” for us (see John 14:2). Until then, our homes should be a godly haven for our families. Titus 2:3-5 tells women how to make our homes a place of refuge: “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” How can you make your house a home? • Watch Your Tongue. Reverence means to be honorable and respectful. By watching our words and tone of voice, we show respect for our husbands and children. The atmosphere of the home is set by the woman. If you’re in a funk, the whole family will reflect your unhappiness. On the other hand, if you’re upbeat, your family will follow suit.
• Teach Good Lessons. We all have special gifts from God that are meant to bless others. Helping your husband organize or teaching your children crafting or cooking is time well spent and can be a rich legacy to future generations.
• Love Your Neighbor. “Who is my neighbor?” you might ask. Your closest neighbors live right in your home—your family members. Shower them with love, affection, and care. • Stay Separate and Pure. It’s great to be known in your women’s group for your hospitality, or at work for your diligence, but not at the expense of your family. Make sure your family’s needs are met first, then share your time and talents with others. • Make Home Happy. Whether placing flowers on the table or spraying freshener in the air, small touches make your family feel loved. Greeting each person with a warm smile and sending them off with “I love you” makes a big difference in how they feel about going out into the world and coming back home. • Be a “Yes” Woman. Say “yes” unless you absolutely have to say no. If your kids like the crusts cut off their sandwich, cut them off! If your husband prefers a clean towel every day, what’s one more load of laundry? Why not say yes to a picnic in the backyard or letting the kids choose their own clothes (even mismatched)? Of course, you should say no to dangerous or sinful activities, but there are so many small ways to enrich our daily lives. Even if you are single, hone your hospitality skills on your friends and neighbors. Don’t fall in the trap of thinking you have to be the perfect cook, sew your family’s clothing, or labor hours to have a showplace home. Find what works to make your husband and family feel loved, and lavish them with it.
Leading Like a Man
A Challenge to Choose By Skip Heitzig
cholars today refer to our culture as a “post-marriage society.” One social scientist said the scale of marital breakdown since the 1960s in America is without historical precedent. The reasons are obvious: High abortion rates, out-of-wedlock births, high divorce rates, and singleparent homes are all contributing factors. Some cynics have floated the idea that marriage should be refashioned into a contract with an expiration date to be renegotiated rather than the biblical model of “till death do us part.” They argue that it’s time for Christian leaders to be pro-choice concerning marriage. Joshua, the leader of the Israelites following Moses, challenged the people to be proactive and make a choice concerning family values. He spoke to them not only as the leader of the nation, but as the leader of his home. He made a personal decision to make his family a priority and put the Lord first. He challenged the people to, “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.” Then he clearly stated his resolve, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15). Men, as the leaders of your home, this is not only a personal commitment, it’s a corporate commitment on behalf of your family: “This is what I choose as the leader of my home for all of us. We will serve the Lord.” You can carry out this challenge with a two-pronged approach: 29
1. Me: “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart” (Deuteronomy 6:5-6). First, you must make a personal commitment to serve the Lord and obey His Word. Our personal commitment affects every relationship we have. 2. My House: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up” (Deuteronomy 6:7). Pass on what you’ve learned so your family will have spiritual equipment and replicate the cycle. Two cargo boats were sailing from Memphis to New Orleans. As they launched, sailors from one boat yelled to the other, “We can beat you any day.” More words were exchanged and the race was on. The boats were neck and neck as they sailed through the deep South down the river. One of the boats fell further and further behind. She had enough coal to make the journey, but not enough to win the race. One bright sailor decided to take some cargo and put it into the furnace. He found it burned just as well as coal. So he loaded the cargo and won the race—but he lost the cargo. We have been given cargo on this journey called life: wives, husbands, children, parents, and others. Will you destructively burn your cargo so you can personally advance? Or will you stand and choose God’s ways?
Giving Him What He Needs RETRIBUTION, RETALIATION, OR ROMANCE By Jesse Lusko
he onslaught of temptation facing men today is staggering. Popular culture is saturated with lust. Yet despite the external assaults of media, raunchy conversations around the office, and immodestly dressed women at every turn, there is an internal, God-given drive for sexual pleasure. Paul gave the following advice to the church in Corinth, a town flooded with sexual perversity: “Because there is so much sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband… Do not deprive each other of sexual relations, unless you both agree to refrain from sexual intimacy for a limited time so you can give yourselves more completely to prayer. Afterward, you should come together again so that Satan won’t be able to tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Corinthians 7:2; 5-6, ESV). We Christians sing about amazing grace, but we often think in terms of amazing justice. This is tragically true within many marriages. A husband fails in his romantic responsibilities toward his wife. As retribution, she deprives him sexually. He retaliates by further distancing himself romantically. Eventually this can culminate in an emotional affair, pornography, or outright adultery. Sex within marriage is meant to be both a blessing and a form of protection. When a woman denies her husband sex31
ually, she may believe she is protecting herself. In truth, she is leaving her marriage and family open to all kinds of dangers. At the same time, sex is not something a husband can demand or leverage. Biblically, the responsibility for sacrificial love and understanding falls first on the man. On the other hand, there are some tremendous ways a woman can satisfy her man. • Replace: Pornography has absolutely no place within a marriage. However, men are extremely visual. A wife can occupy her husband’s imagination with creative experiences and images in the marriage bed. • Relieve: For a man there is no greater stress relief from the pressures of life than having a sexually proactive wife. A surprised and delighted man will be engaged and attentive rather than aloof and exhausted. • Respond: There is nothing more frustrating than when a husband genuinely tries to romance his mate and is shut down. His efforts may not be perfect, but he is showing interest in his wife and avoiding the snares of the enemy. A wife should do her best to reward his efforts with grace based on faith rather than feeling. • Rejoice: Sex and romance are gifts from God. Proverbs says a man should rejoice with the wife of his youth. Provided your intimacy is free from abuse and pornography, and kept between the two of you, have fun! The Song of Solomon describes a woman who initiates wonderful sexual acts with her husband. If wives today will learn from her example and faithfully satisfy their husbands, they will find themselves able to say like the Shulamite, “I am my beloved’s, and his desire is toward me” (Song of Solomon 7:10). Ultimately, the marriage will be protected and husbands changed by grace.
Getting Her in the Mood The Secret to What Wives Want By Maria Guy
hat does the principle of sowing and reaping have to do with sexual intimacy between a husband and wife? Everything. Paul told the Galatians, “Whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” and went on to say, “Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Galatians 6:7, 9). Men ask, “What do women want?” Wrong question! Why? Because the question implies that there’s some technique, phrase, or gift that will turn an unwilling woman into a lustfilled lady. A better question is: “What does my wife want from me?” A farmer who prepares during the sowing season increases his chances for a great harvest. In the same way, the husband who creates the best environment, conditions, and protection for his wife has a greater chance of reaping a sexually satisfying relationship for himself and his wife. A husband can begin by planting the following SEEDS: •
Security: Women are bombarded with images of what a “perfect body” should look like from the media’s perspective. Reassure your bride that she is perfect in your eyes. Make your arms a safe refuge from the world, where she can confidently relax and enjoy herself. Protect her with both your words and your actions.
Enjoyment: Giving your wife pleasure creates an appetite for more intimacy. Ask your wife what satisfies her sexually. Delight her—don’t demand from her. Unfortunately, too often there is a link between sexual performance and guilt that God never intended. Patience, prayer, and passion will break that link so a husband and wife can truly enjoy each other.
Exchange: Women want to feel an emotional exchange as well as a physical connection. Communicate with your wife. Tell her what you love about her, why you appreciate her, how much you need her, and how grateful you are for her. She will never grow tired of hearing this from you. Never. Ever.
Devotion: Your wife doesn’t want to share you. Period. A sexually responsive wife needs to know her husband is loyal in word, thought, and deed. Protect your heart, mind, and soul from distracting relationships, conversations, publications, websites, and any form of “entertainment” that threatens to destroy your marriage.
Support: Women’s lives are busy: They juggle kids, appointments, jobs, ministry, and housework, among other things. Lend a hand. Ask your wife, “How can I help you?” Talk about an aphrodisiac! An exhausted wife is unlikely to be sexually responsive, but an appreciative, exhausted wife will have a more responsive heart towards sexual intimacy.
Sexual intimacy is one of God’s gifts to married couples. Developing it is a process. Become a student of your wife. Learn what conditions are optimum for her. Start planting the seeds of intimacy and do not grow weary. Soon you will be reaping a harvest of beautiful, holy, and delightful sexual intimacy, just as God intended.
Climbing Out of the Pit By Ray Del Toro
veryone has fallen into the pit called lust at one time or another. Lust is sinful desire. It develops discontent, spawning sinful actions which lead to immoral lifestyles. How do we free ourselves from lust’s abyss? Your struggle with lust may look different from your neighbors’, but the following biblical precepts will help you climb out of it: • Call It What It Is. Be honest with yourself and the Lord by admitting to lustful desires. Lust is sin, not a “struggle.” It is deliberate disobedience against the law of our God. True confession (agreeing with God about your thoughts or actions) is essential to making real progress toward spiritual purity and conquering lust (see 1 John 1:9). • Take Drastic Measures. Avoid lust at all costs Change your cell phone number if inappropriate texts or phone calls are a problem. Delete your Facebook account if you’re “friends” with people who threaten your marriage or relationship with God. End any unbiblical relationship. Deny yourself access to temptation via the internet, movies, music, magazines, etc.—be ruthless with your sin. Find new friends. Change jobs. Move. Do everything within your power to willfully obey the Lord when it comes to exterminating the lust that exists in your heart (see Psalm 119:37 and John 8:34). 35
• Be Practical. Limit your television intake. Research movies before you watch them (see Focus on the Family’s pluggedin.com). Download internet filters. Move the household computer to a common area in your home so you’re not tempted to go to dark places (for free software, visit xxxchurch.com). Ask yourself, “Would Jesus do, watch, or listen to this?” • There’s Safety in Numbers. Find an accountability partner—someone who, “speaking the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15), offers biblical counsel, prays with and for you, and provides confidentiality. Let your accountability partner know before you meet with someone of the opposite sex. A good rule of thumb is not to meet with a member of the opposite sex alone. If unavoidable, arrange to meet in public. If you have fallen into sin, confess to your accountability partner. Pray for forgiveness (see James 5:16). We cannot do it alone. • Run! Joseph ran from Potiphar’s wife (see Genesis 39). David remained on the rooftop (see 2 Samuel 11). Joseph’s actions brought him into a place of prominence. David’s actions left him desolate and despairing. Flee (literally) from sexual immorality and pursue God’s holiness (see 2 Timothy 2:22). The apostle John said, “All that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Do your part to avoid the pitfalls of lust. These tips, rooted in Scripture, are easier said than done. But if we rise above the world, then we will “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
Controlling the Tongue
Don’t Add Fuel to the Fire By Lenya Heitzig
n New Mexico, we know it only takes a tiny spark to start a fire. In De Baca County, a freight train sent off a spark igniting a fire that destroyed 40,000 acres of land and all the grazing cattle in the area. More recently, massive wildfires necessitated the evacuation of Los Alamos. Wildfire describes any unplanned fire. While we usually assume that lightning is the source, sadly, nine out of ten fires are humancaused. James said our tongues unleash wildfires through boasting and bragging. In marriages, nagging and bullying often cause conflict. “The tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles!” (James 3:5). On average, we speak 7,000 words per day. That’s a lot of potential kindling between couples. Once a harsh word flares, kicking the coals of petty paybacks adds fuel to a bad situation. The lingering smoke damage can contaminate our children, who often repeat the pattern in their own relationships; or our parents, who continue to harbor bitterness toward our spouse; or even our friends, who took sides in the argument. Another way our homes implode is through rumors and backbiting. Repeating accusations and innuendos is like lingering smoke that permeates everything. If you are exhibiting symptoms of word pollution, ask yourself a few questions: 1. Do I dislike a person based on second-hand knowledge? This is a symptom of being defiled by simply listening to gossip about others.
2. Do I disapprove of people involved in the situation? If you choose sides, then you’ve been contaminated. God alone is judge. 3. Do I distort the facts to others? Adding to or “spinning” the information means that you are now corrupting others. 4. Do I deceive myself by thinking my involvement is somehow accomplishing God’s will? Unless you are part of the solution, you are part of the problem. At times, we’ve all been guilty of adding fuel to the fire of an argument. If you’ve gotten in over your head, decontaminate your heart and lift yourself out of the mire with the following steps: 1. Repent: Ask God to forgive your involvement in the matter and to cleanse your mind. John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 2. Restore: Pray that God will give you genuine love for the persons involved in the situation. Jesus said, “Leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:24). 3. Renew: Finally, renew your mind with the truth. John 15:3 says, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” Meditate on Scripture and ask God to make your words a source of blessing. Remember The Carpenters, a brother and sister singing duo from the 1970s? A newspaper article once described Karen as “Richard’s chubby sister.” As a result, she developed anorexia and died of heart failure at age 32. Are ugly words eating away at your family from the inside out? Here are twelve words that can quench any flaming tongue and extinguish hot arguments: One: Please Two and Three: Thank You Four and Five: I’m Sorry Six, Seven, and Eight: I Love You Nine, Ten, Eleven, and Twelve: I’m Praying For You Proverbs 15:1 says, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.”
Controlling Anger How to Be Angry and Not Sin By Neil Ortiz
ing David wrote, “God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11), teaching us that justice and anger are God’s attributes. The Bible tells us how to exhibit these godly traits, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). Most of our failures in rightfully controlling anger stem from the fact that as sinful humans, we are not the just judge that God is. Anger is not the problem; misapplied and mishandled anger is. Unrighteous expressions of anger threaten intimacy in a marriage. Such episodes include fiery outbursts of verbal or physical wrath as well as the ice-cold chill of withholding affection. One of our greatest difficulties is that we’re really passionate about what angers us. Author Ed Welch described such anger as “uncontrolled rightness.” How do we learn to control ungodly anger in our marriages? Consider these five strategies: 1. When you sense your blood begin to boil, take a break before you foolishly vent your feelings (see Proverbs 29:11). Wives may want to take a soothing bath to think about addressing the issues in a non-combative way; husbands may take a walk to get their thoughts in order. Establish rules for fighting fairly. 2. Talk with—not at—your spouse when you disagree (see Matthew 18:15). Avoiding meaningful dialogue will lead to more problems in your marriage. Take the time to talk things through. 39
3. Expand your emotional vocabulary. Often fatigue, embarrassment, frustration, rejection, fear, etc. come across as anger. Slow down and describe the real emotion you’re experiencing to your husband or wife. It’s okay to say, “I had a bad day.” God provided your spouse as your helpmate, not your opponent. 4. Count the cost. Ask yourself, “Is this a hill worth dying for?” Spending your anger on trivial matters (“You left dirty socks on the floor again!” “Why isn’t dinner on the table yet?”) will leave you less to work with on the truly important matters of your marriage. 5. Repent. In every disagreement there are at least three people involved: the husband, the wife, and the Lord. Both parties are accountable to God for their words and actions. The Lord doesn’t permit us to be enraged with our spouse. When you blow it, ask for forgiveness from God and your spouse. The way you settle disagreements with your spouse will set the tone for your household. “The wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God” (James 1:20). And remember, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). It’s so much better to follow Christ’s example of turning the other cheek rather than stirring the pot.
God’s Way to Handle Your His Money By Paul Bishop
ccording to a survey conducted by Citibank, 57% of divorced couples in the United States cited financial problems as the primary reason for the demise of their marriage. Christ spoke about money in the gospels more than most people realize. He’s serious about how people use their His money—married couples should be, too. God wants to bless your finances—why not follow His plan for handling the finances He has placed in your care? • Honor God by returning the first part of your income to Him. God’s grace generates jobs and earnings for His children. Realize that every dollar coming into your household stems from Him. Christians are simply distributers of income as God directs. When you give to Him, He’ll give to you. Scripture says, “‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,’ says the LORD Almighty, ‘I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in!’” (Malachi 3:10, NLT). • Create a budget and stick to it. Make sure you both create the budget and agree to follow it. Budget money for work and play. Then persevere together. There is budgeting help available (see additional resources). “Through wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (Proverbs 24:3-4). 41
• Stay out of debt. Don’t use your credit cards like a bank. Paying high interest on credit card debt is a money pit. If you have credit card debt, pay as much as possible toward the card with the highest interest rate. As you pay one card off, apply the money to the next highest interest card. Paying off credit card debt will improve your family’s cash flow by leaps and bounds. “The borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7). • Save for the future. A reasonable goal is to save 10% of your income per month. If saving 10% is not possible, start with $10 per week and build up. “Go to the ant, you sluggard! Consider her ways and be wise, which…provides her supplies in the summer, and gathers her food in the harvest” (Proverbs 6:6-8). • Be accountable to a Christian mentor. Find a wise Christian financial counselor (ask a pastor for a referral) and follow his advice. “Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established” (Proverbs 15:22). As a couple, remember, everything in heaven and earth is the Lord’s. One day, He will require an accounting regarding how you’ve used His resources. When you’re fiscally faithful, rest assured there will be no shame when that day arrives.
Understanding Your Spouse’s Love Languages Parlez-Vous Marriage? By Kerry and Penny Rose
n French, “Parlez-vous?” means, “Do you speak?” If you travel to Paris on a romantic vacation you might ask your taxi driver, “Parlez-vous anglais?” Or if you’re in Mexico looking for a restaurant, you might ask a local, “¿Cuál restaurante?” Who would have thought that getting married is like journeying to a foreign country? Your spouse obviously speaks a different language than you. Some of the things you say are misinterpreted. When you act one way, your other half reacts another. You need a translator, quick! It’s time to learn each other’s love language. Everyone has a love language. We are usually drawn to people who speak a different language than our own. Just as you shouldn’t travel to a foreign country and expect the people there to speak English, you shouldn’t marry someone and expect them to understand how you express your love—or change how they express their love. It’s important to recognize your mate’s love language and identify your own language. Here are the Five Love Languages described by Dr. Gary Chapman: 1. Quality Time: giving someone else the gift of yourself and time; undivided attention; undistracted encounters; being completely focused on another person in the moment 43
2. Verbal Affirmation: using words of praise and love to build another person’s sense of self-worth; words of acknowledgment or appreciation 3. Gift Giving: big or small tokens of appreciation; a memento demonstrating love for another person 4. Acts of Service: using your time, energy, or resources to serve someone else; doing chores; running errands; putting another’s need above your own 5. Physical Touch: touching another person, whether for grooming, healing affection, or comfort Not all of the “languages” involve words—most are action oriented. To learn another’s language involves selflessness— putting the needs of the person you love above your own. You may be a quiet man, while your wife’s love language is Verbal Affirmation. You know this because she always tells you what a great job you’re doing, what a fine father, etc. You, on the other hand, told her you loved her when you got married. Isn’t that enough? No. She craves affirmation. Think of the things you love about her—then tell her! You’ll be amazed at her positive response. Perhaps you’re a modest woman, not given to public displays of affection. Your husband’s love language is Physical Touch. You know because he reaches for your hand at the movie. He pats your back when he passes by. He snuggles in bed. Surprise him by touching him first. Slip your hand through his arm when you’re walking. Initiate intimacy. He’ll be a happy man. Immerse yourself in your other half’s love language. Watch what they do to show their love. Listen to the way they speak endearments. Try to “speak” and exhibit their language rather than always operating in your own. Then you’ll respond to the question, “Parlez-vous marriage?” with a resounding, “Oui, we do!” i Gary Chapman, The 5 Love Languages, www.5lovelanguages.com/learn-the-languages/ thefive-love-languages/. Used with permission.
COPING WITH HEALTH ISSUES A PRESCRIPTION FOR SICK DAYS By Laura Sowers
othing is quite as upsetting to a couple as a serious illness. We try to prepare for potential problems: We put money in savings, we protect our house from intruders, and we stock the pantry with extra food. But when we, or someone we love, gets sick, our lives become chaotic. We wonder, What should we do? Why has this happened? Will everything be all right? How can we prepare for the unexpected? The better question might be: Do we really want to be prepared? As a culture, we don’t like thinking about illness because it seems like negative thinking—alongside buying life insurance, writing a will, and making funeral plans. Thanks very much, but we’d rather clean the toilet. So, here’s a prescription for being faithfully prepared while living in joyful confidence. In Case of Sickness: • Consult the Great Physician. Call first on the Specialist who knows everything and loves you with never-failing love. Pray for strength and guidance through every decision (see Mark 11:24). • Cast Your Cares on Him. Remember the old rope-tows at ski areas? They worked like a big pulley. When the skier loosely grasped the rope, it pulled him up the mountain. But if it was held too tightly, the skier wound up facedown in the snow. Relax your grip. God’s got your back. 45
Cast your cares upon the Lord—He cares for you (see 1 Peter 5:7). • Come Forward. In James 5:14 we’re told that in the event of illness: “Let him [the sick person] call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” Seeking prayer is an act of faith and obedience. • Come After Him. Illness can be a dark and winding road. Deuteronomy 31:8 reminds us that the Lord “goes before you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” Let the Lord lead—He knows the way. • Consult the Word. Limit your time Googling symptoms, diseases, and prognoses. Instead, consult God’s Word. The Bible is a steady guide; a source of peace, comfort, and hope—park your mind there (see Psalm 119:105). Illness is a fact of life in our fallen world. Sickness is the result of sin’s entrance in the world. We won’t enjoy perfect peace or health until we are with the Lord in heaven. Satan is at the core of illness—he means it for evil. But God can use it for good (see Genesis 50:20). Thankfully, God promises to cause all things to work together for good. All things—even illness (see Romans 8:28). Take heart! Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Scripture tells us that one day “the inhabitant will not say, ‘I am sick’; the people who dwell in it will be forgiven their iniquity” (Isaiah 33:24).
How to Grow Closer As a Couple By Yo Snyder
ce cream. It’s hard to believe that a treat this wonderful can trigger a conflict between husband and wife. Chocolate or Rocky Road? One scoop or two? Arguments are inevitable. Sometimes we bicker over silly things like ice cream; other times the issues are very serious like finances or family. While conflicts are inevitable, there are ways a couple can grow closer and the relationship can grow deeper as we learn to resolve our differences. • Communication: Be careful of “you” statements. Pointing the finger and saying, “You always blah, blah, blah…” puts your spouse on the defensive and inflames conflict. Changing the pronoun from “you” to “I” helps defuse tension and open up heartfelt conversation. Try saying, “I feel …” to keep the fires of conflict from raging out of control. And remember, “A soft answer turns away wrath” (Proverbs 15:1). • Compromise: Marriage isn’t a 50-50 compromise; it’s a 100-100 compromise. This doesn’t mean husbands always need to admit they’re wrong (big sigh of relief); nor should wives always give in when disagreements arise (thank goodness). Rather, each party should put the needs of the other above their own. In a Christian home, ego, pride, and self-righteousness (those things that lead to conflict) should recede to the background. Selflessness, humility, and lovingkindness should come to the foreground. One pastor pointed out that Christ was 47
the first to love, the first to forgive, and the first to sacrifice. In short, He always took the initiative in relationships. Would you rather win an argument or be Christ-like? • Conciliation: Let’s be honest, the best part of any quarrel is making up. Don’t let the moment pass. Reconciliation is God’s desire for you. Celebrate your reunion after an argument. Have a romantic dinner. Enjoy the closeness you experience on the other side of the conflict. Reflect on what you’ve learned. What has God taught you about yourself? What has He shown you about your spouse? What has He revealed about Himself? Reward yourselves for handling the situation well. Savor the deeper relationship physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Ice cream may seem like a silly thing to fight over, but so are many things that spark arguments. Regardless of the cause, conflict in marriage is unavoidable. Men and women are too different for everything to run smoothly. However, the way conflict is resolved can either help a marriage grow, mature, and deepen, or cause it to crumble. Rather than getting emotional when you argue with your spouse, ask yourself, Do I want to be right or do I want to be righteous? When you seek righteousness, your marriage will grow stronger and more loving as the years go by. “The house of the righteous will stand” (Proverbs 12:7).
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Parenting
Secrets of a Happy Home By Nancy Reimann
he Bible tells us that “children are a gift from the LORD” (Psalm 127:3, NLT). But these bundles of joy can add strain to a marriage. When new parents are plunged into a world of dirty diapers, runny noses, sleepless nights, and additional financial responsibility, the pressure can rise. Those temper tantrums that accompany toddlerhood are enough to push parents over the edge. Teenage trouble has a way of making mom and dad feel as if they’re on opposite ends of a tug-of-war. Mom, you may struggle to balance the roles of both mommy and wife. Spit-up on your blouse, a young one banging on the bathroom door, or a teenager slamming the bedroom door just aren’t conducive to a romantic evening. Dad, you probably feel neglected when your lover lights up when she sees her toddler walk in the room (instead of you) and falls asleep before you come to bed. Different parenting styles can also add tension to the relationship. Disagreements about rules, responsibilities, and discipline are common. Even toddlers recognize which parent is more lenient. Divisive patterns that are established early are difficult to reverse. So, how can you avoid the pitfalls of parenting? •
Focus on Your Spouse. While parenting is an important job, your marriage is the most important relationship in your family. Enlist friends and family to help with child49
care so you can have time alone for date nights and even weekend getaways. You don’t need a big budget: Quality time over coffee or a night at a nearby campground aren’t costly, but are incredibly valuable. •
Establish Healthy Boundaries. Children thrive when boundaries are well-defined and clearly communicated by both parents. Discuss your roles, responsibilities, and responses before conflict arises. For instance, don’t wait until after your daughter has received an invitation to prom to decide the appropriate age to date. Have frequent family meetings where accomplishments are recognized, rules are clarified, and issues are addressed. The old-fashioned dinner table provides a valuable avenue of communication for your family.
Share Responsibility. Clearly communicate expectations about childcare and chores. Will one person change all the diapers? Who folds the laundry? Which parent reminds children to make their beds? Who handles daily devotions with the children? Passive parenting is dangerous; don’t relinquish your God-given responsibility to anyone—even your spouse.
• Present a United Front. Children are adept at maneuvering their parents against each other to get their way. Resolve as a couple to avoid undermining one another’s authority. Don’t disagree in front of your children about discipline, parenting style, or decisions you’ve made or will make. Discuss any differences in private, using quiet voices and common respect. Many couples center their homes around the kids. But the rewards of keeping family relationships in order are tremendous. A stable home, where the mother and father love each other and put each other first, is a beautiful reflection of Christ and His church. What a wonderful gift to give your children—and yourselves.
Honoring your Spouse’s Parents
How to Deal with In-Laws By Justin Marbury
sking a father for his daughter’s hand in marriage is a tradition that is losing prominence in American culture. It could be because it is awkward and embarrassing. Perhaps today’s society encourages young adults to be more independent. But the importance of this ritual far outweighs any jangled nerves on the part of the groom. Seeking the parents’ blessing can set a tone of respect between the couple and the in-laws for years to come. Maybe you didn’t get off on the right foot with your in-laws. But it’s never too late to bring honor into a relationship. We all know that the fifth commandment tells us to “honor your father and your mother” (Exodus 20:12). But what about honoring our in-laws? Are we commanded to honor them? The answer is a resounding yes. After all, marriage means that two individuals have become one. You now share everything, including parents. You may even call your in-laws “Mom” and “Dad.” And while marriage involves “leaving” one family and “cleaving” to another as a new family, it doesn’t cancel the fifth commandment. So how do we honor our spouse’s parents while retaining the autonomy marriage requires? Try following these three principles: 1. Honoring Your In-Laws Is a Requirement. The first step in honoring your in-laws is to understand that God expects it. In fact, He commands it. Like so many of God’s requirements, this is unconditional. Honoring your in-laws doesn’t necessarily mean that you always conform to 51
their will. Sometimes you will disagree with your in-laws or act in a way contrary to their desires or expectations. It is possible to disagree agreeably. But always make sure you retain the crucial boundaries of honor and respect. 2. Consider Your In-Laws’ Perspective. The second step in honoring your in-laws is to try to see things from their point of view. Perspective changes everything. It’s not always easy to look at things from another’s perspective. The best way to do this is to put yourself in their shoes, “How would I feel if my daughter didn’t come home for the holidays?” “What if I wasn’t invited to my son’s birthday party?” In the end, it may not change your decision, but it should help you to honor their position. 3. Let Love Motivate You to Honor Your In-Laws. The third step in honoring your in-laws may sound cliché—love them. First and foremost comes our love for God. There is no possibility of consistent love (agape) outside a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. When you try to unconditionally honor your in-laws in your own strength, you will fail. While love for God is primary, you should also be motivated by love for your spouse. After all, the person you love so much is the product of your in-laws’ DNA. As imperfect as your in-laws may be, they produced the person you married. The next time you’re tempted to think, Life sure would be easier without them, remember, without them you wouldn’t have your spouse.
Loving Your Unbeliever How to Live Unequally Yoked By Ray Del Toro
t feels like you’re not on the same page. “When will he understand?” “Why won’t she come to church with me?” “Will we ever agree on this?” “Will she ever get saved?” “Am I doing something wrong?” These questions and more arise when you live with an unbelieving spouse. Being likeminded is essential to relationships, but how can you maintain unity and growth in your marriage when your partner doesn’t believe in Christ or live his or her life in obedience to Him? While salvation is a work of the Holy Spirit, you can look for opportunities to be involved as the Lord works in the life and heart of your loved one. • Be Prayerful. Never overlook the proven and practical power of prayer (see James 5:16). Ask the Lord to work in your spouse’s life and to use you in pointing them to Christ’s love. • Be an Example. Live your life in such obedience to God that all of your actions reflect Christ. Bar none, hypocrisy is the biggest hindrance to faith in Jesus Christ (see Romans 12:9). Practice what you preach, live out your faith, and never stop growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ. • Be Loving. Unconditional, sacrificial, and Christ-centered love is one of the most powerful influences you have on your unbeliever (see Proverbs 10:12). 53
• Be Bold. Talk openly about your faith and always be ready to give an answer for the hope you have in Jesus (see 1 Peter 3:15). • Be Gentle. You will never regret exhibiting a gentle and quiet spirit (see 1 Peter 3:4). It’s been said, “Win the man, not the argument.” • Trust God. Enough said. • Be patient. God calls everyone to Himself individually and uniquely. Don’t expect everyone to have the same experience. Don’t let your desire for their life-change or salvation distract you from your walk with God. Remember, God has given us all things that pertain to life and godliness (see 2 Peter 1:3). He will accomplish His will, in His time and His way. Don’t miss out on the opportunities you have as a believer to point your loved one to Jesus and the forgiveness He made possible on the cross. Remember, it is God’s desire to see your partner come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ; He is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God is on your side.
Making Your Home Your Castle The Case for Companionship By Skip Heitzig
ome people build their lives like a medieval castle. They protect themselves from emotional harm—the drawbridge is closed; they are secure from attack. However, the occupant rattles around the castle alone. The castle-dweller is a self-made prisoner. He or she longs to feel loved, but the walls are so high that it is difficult to connect with others. King Solomon, the man granted wisdom by God, recognized that life without companionship could get lonely. (Note that loneliness isn’t necessarily aloneness. There are times when solitude is good.) Solomon made the case for companionship, stating that “two are better than one” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). Let’s examine the benefits of married bliss: • Mutual Reward: “They have a good reward for their labor” (Ecclesiastes 4:9). During the Depression, there was a popular Tin Pan Alley song, “Potatoes are cheaper, tomatoes are cheaper, now’s the time to fall in love.” People once married on the basis that two could live less expensively than one. Today the IRS gives tax breaks to married couples. • Mutual Reassurance: “If they fall, one will lift up his companion” (Ecclesiastes 4:10). The fall may be literal, where one falls and needs help to stand up. The fall could be metaphorical, where one fails in an endeavor and needs encouragement to restore confidence. It could be 55
a spiritual fall into a snare set by Satan, where love and prayer lead to recovery. • Mutual Refreshment: “If two lie down together, they will keep warm” (Ecclesiastes 4:11). Originally, this was written with travelers huddling together for warmth on cold nights in mind. But this is good advice for married couples to settle differences before the sun goes down. It’s difficult to snuggle when you’re angry. The Scripture tells us, “Do not let the sun go down on your wrath” (Ephesians 4:26). •Mutual Reinforcement: “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). Remember the story of the Good Samaritan, who helped a man who was overcome by an attacker on a journey? It’s true! Life’s journey is full of unforeseen attacks. As believers, we have an enemy, the devil, who “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8). When we travel together, we’re less likely to face assault. Our spouse can watch our back and help us overcome the attacker by standing with us against our foe. At the end of his case for companionship, Solomon said, “A threefold cord is not quickly broken” (Ecclesiastes 4:12). He’s speaking of a rope woven from three strands twisted together. One strand may have some strength; two strands are slightly stronger; but three strands will hold up under greater tension and strain. In a Christian marriage, the third strand is Jesus Christ, the fiber that holds your union together. In the 1950’s television show The Honeymooners, Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden memorably said, “Alice…This house is my castle! I’m the king!” Your house can be your castle, but only if you recognize Jesus Christ as King of your life.
ADDITIONAL READING + ONLINE RESOURCES BOOKS • Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens by Paul David Tripp •
Beloved Unbeliever: Loving Your Husband Into the Faith by Jo Berry
Beyond the Summer of Love by Skip Heitzig
Blended Families: Creating Harmony as You Build A New Home Life by Maxine Marsolini
Christian Living in the Home by Jay E. Adams
Communication: Key to Your Marriage: A Practical Guide to Creating a Happy Fulfilling Relationship by H. Norman Wright
Disciplines of a Godly Man by R. Kent Hughes
Fight Fair: Winning at Conflict without Losing at Love by Tim and Joy Downs
The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman
The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women by Gary and Barbara Rosberg
For Men Only: A Straightforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women by Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn
For Women Only: What You Need to Know about the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhahn
• God, Marriage, and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation by Andreas J. Köstenberger 60
Instruments in the Redeemer’s Hand: People in Need of Change Helping People in Need of Change by Paul David Tripp
Lasting Love: How to Avoid Marital Failure by Alistair Begg
The Privilege by Kay Smith
The Secret of Self Control: What God Wants You to Know About Taking Charge of Your Life by Dr. Richard Ganz
Shepherding a Child’s Heart by Tedd Tripp
Strengthening Your Marriage by Wayne A. Mack
Surviving a Spiritual Mismatch in Marriage by Lee and Leslie Strobel
• Twice Blessed: Encouragement for the Caregiver and Carereceiver by Laura Sowers •
Two Becoming One: Experiencing the Power of Oneness in Your Marriage by Don and Sally Meredith
War of Words: Getting to the Heart of Your Communication Struggles by Paul David Tripp
The War Within: Gaining Victory in the Battle for Sexual Purity by Robert Daniels
• What Did You Expect?: Redeeming the Realities of Marriage by Paul David Tripp
WEBSITES • calvaryabq.org/keepcalm • crown.org • daveramsey.com
KEEP CALM AND MARRY ON PRODUCTS Keep Calm and Marry On MP3 Player................................$35 The complete 22-message Keep Calm and Marry On teaching series preloaded on an MP3 player. Keep Calm and Marry CD Package....................................$30 The complete 22-message Keep Calm and Marry On teaching series on 11 CDs. Keep Calm Marry On DVD Package...................................$40 The complete 22-message Keep Calm and Marry On teaching series on 5 DVDs. Keep Calm Marry On c-Hows Book....................................$10 A collection of articles with practical tips on making your marriage what God designed it to be. Keep Calm Marry On Booklet..............................................$3 A booklet by Skip Heitzig on putting the “sparkle” back in your marriage.
You can order any of these resources online at skipheitzig.com or by calling 1.800.922.1888
KEEP CALM AND MARRY ON Message Titles 1.
No Man Is An Island (Skip Heitzig) Genesis 2:18-22 2. The First Wedding (Skip Heitzig) Genesis 2:23-25 3. Trouble In Paradise (Skip Heitzig) Genesis 3:1-20 4. Gender Wars (Skip Heitzig) Genesis 1-3 5. Friends with Benefits (Nate Heitzig) Matthew 22:37-40 6. The Hardest Word in a Marriage (Skip Heitzig) Ephesians 5:22-24 7. The Storm-Proof Shelter of a Husband’s Love (Skip Heitzig) Ephesians 5:25-32 8. Strength and Honor (Levi Lusko) Hebrews 13:4 9. Homemaker or Homebreaker? (Skip Heitzig) Titus 2 & Proverbs 31 10. Needed: Real Men! (Skip Heitzig) Joshua 24:1-15 11. How to Have a Love Affair with Your Spouse: Part 1 (Skip Heitzig) Proverbs 5 12. How to Have a Love Affair with Your Spouse: Part 2 (Skip Heitzig) Proverbs 5:15-21 & Song of Solomon 1:1-7:13 13. Weeds of Unfaithfulness in the Garden of Love (Skip Heitzig) Matthew 5:27-30 14. Faith Walkin’ and Tongue Talkin’ (Gino Geraci) James 3:1-12 15. Short Fuse for the Long Haul! (Skip Heitzig) Ephesians 4:25-32 16. Partners for Life (Bob Shank) Psalm 1:1-6 & Malachi 3:6-10 17. Have a New You by Friday (Dr. Kevin Leman) 18. In Sickness and in Health (Skip Heitzig) Job 1-2 19. The Most Important Job in the World (Skip Heitzig) Ephesians 6:4 20. In-laws or Outlaws? (Skip Heitzig) Genesis 28-31 21. The Unequal Yoke (Skip Heitzig) 2 Corinthians 6:1-18 & 1 Peter 3:1-22 22. Are You Building a House or a Home? (Skip Heitzig) Psalm 127
Keep Calm Series Study Notebook