Monday, August 31, 2009

A Husband's Crown: A Wife Who Fears God

Hey Covenat Groupies,

This is our Pastor's sermon from yesterday. It totally speaks for itself. Share your thoughts.

LIFE LESSON 11: FIND A WIFE WHO FEARS GOD from David Randolph Holder on Vimeo.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Sexiness of Marriage: Authority and Submission

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Let’s face it ladies, when our men take the position of authority in the home whether it be working everyday, praying, or even coming to our rescue when something goes wrong , isn’t it one of the sexiest thing you ever seen and experienced in your life? For me, there's nothing sexier.
Likewise men, when your wives submit to that very same authority, honoring your desire to work, trusting your heart for prayer and allowing you to rescue her, isn’t she the most beautiful creature ever witnessed? She' allowing you to be just who God created you to be; a leader, a hunter and protector.

I know I talk a lot about authority and submission but I think it’s because it’s primarily where we fall our shortest and hardest know it was mine and EVERY man and woman I’ve ever spoken to. The Word specifically tells us that in order for these two things; authority and submission to be accomplished, we must be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit. However, we deny His presence and choose to live very mundane, powerless and unfulfilling marriages by doing things our way in our own strength; or should I say weaknesses.

Furthermore, we choose then to blame our spouses for our unhappiness and engage in the elementary game of tit-for-tat. No one chooses to be the grown up. That’s why I love the title of Gary Thomas’ book, “Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy?” This is one of the most profound questions ever asked about marriage. Sadly, far too often we attempt to be Holy without the Holy Spirit and our marriages hardly ever or never fully reaches its designed potential.

If being a Christian is supposed to be exciting and fulfilling, it’s no wonder we become bored and give up so frequently. Without the Holy Spirit, we are just mere failures. We use our limited intellect to maneuver through God’s Word, seeking his purpose for our lives and marriages and in desiring to do His Will. In the end, we feel like failures and become so, because nothing exposes our failure more than constantly failing; failing to obey and surrender. But whose fault is it if we’ve been given a helper and we don’t utilize Him?

The Holy Spirit is the ONLY one that can teach us how to truly live out God’s Covenant for marriage.

Friday, August 28, 2009

True Intimacy - Why Aren't Couples Praying Together?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Kevin and I were talking the other day about couples and prayer. We’ve calculated that in all the years that we’ve held Bible Studies (about 8 1/2 years) and sat with couples, we’ve never come across a couple that’s prayed together, not ONE. Now we know that praying, as a discipline difficult, but we’ve always found it strange that couples will have sex, share “some personal secrets,” discuss past hurts and abuses, even open up about what they desire their future to look like, but praying together just doesn’t happen.

We have talked with these couples and found that some couples used prayer as a weapon, others don’t trust one another, then there were those who were embarrassed to be so vulnerable with their spouse or while others had been mocked and ridiculed by their spouse concerning their spiritual life and they just weren’t interested. We’ve discovered that when and if they do pray, it’s always apart from one another.

Strangely enough, we call sex intimate, we call discussing past issues vulnerable and confessing shortcomings and faults transparent, but I have begun to believe that these titles don’t matter. As couples we know that beyond a shadow of a doubt the most intimate, vulnerable and transparent thing we can do together is pray; that’s why we shy away from it, even hide away with it. It’s impossible to pray and lie simultaneously. Sharing a story, confessing a shortcoming even while having sex we can all lie or omit certain parts, but that’s impossible when you pray; you’re not interacting with your spouse, you’re talking to God and He’s knows EVERYTHING!

Have you ever found it difficult to pray with your spouse? Why? Why do you think couples find it difficult to pray together, especially since it’s one of the most intimate things a couple can do? Why do you think, after marriage, children and life transforming decisions couples still don’t trust one another?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Been So Long!!!

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Sorry for the delay. I've been sick for the past 10 days. Fret no more, we'll be back in the swing of things tomorrow. Boy, do I miss blogging.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Spiritual Warfare: The Christian Marriage Bed

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Do you believe that great sex in a Christian marriage is Spiritual Warfare? I do. What better way for the enemy to eliminate future warriors of the Gospel than to halt God’s beautiful act of lovemaking? He’ll take all of our previous sexual liberties like pornography, perverse sexual ideas, unhealthy sexual practices etc. and make us believe that we must bring them into your Christian marriage in order to keep it hot and spicy. As well, he’ll use any abuses we’ve suffered such as rape, molestation, voyeurism, or fears and make us keep them from your spouse; hide behind the shame of exposure. The marriage bed quickly then becomes a place of confusion, distension and discord; instead of romance, love and freedom.

Several years back Kevin and I were speaking to a Christian couple where the wife was consistently caught in the act of infidelity by her husband. She blamed her husband for the cheating and became so bold she would share some of her escapades with him. She even got to the point of having her lover in her home; in her and her husbands’ bed. After confessing what would be her last bout of infidelity, Kevin and I prayed that we could help get to the heart of the issue with them.

In a nutshell, she was missing all of the perverse things from her past that made her feel like she thought a woman should feel; wanted and desired by men. Her mother would allow her, as a young girl of 13 years old, to bring boys home to have sex in her room; there was sexual abuse that she identified as being “healthy” sex, men would ask her to perform different sex acts and so on. From there, her view of sex became very perverted and because her husband wouldn’t participate in these things, she cheated, very often. She told him it was his fault. Nonetheless, each time he took his wife back. If that’s not spiritual warfare, I don’t know what is. This relationship reminded me so much of the Book of Hosea. Hosea too, had to become a spiritual warrior and humble husband to the point of looking like a fool.

His mercy for his wife was never-ending. Most people; especially men would have given up on her the first time she cheated, but he immediately understood his ministry. He prayed often for her sexuality since that was her area of weakness and he recognized the enemy’s schemes. For this man, his wife, his marriage and their sexual relationship became his mission field of spiritual warfare.

Conversely, we’ve also spoken with Christian couples where one member of the marriage has simply withdrawn from the marriage bed all together or may be too tired to enjoy sex with their spouse. All of these are dangerous because when one member of the relationship is constantly denied, aside from agreed to prayer and fasting, it invites satan and his devious temptations. 1 Cor. 7:1-5.

Then there are those couples who’ve allowed anger (justified and unjustified) to shut their spouse out of their bedroom and have, instead of committing to one another, they’ve vowed to stay far away from one another until “something” changes.

The enemy is laughing his booty off.

Have you committed to praying for your marital sex life?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - How do you handle a couple that destroys every event?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Quick Question: Do you have a couple that you hang out with that, although you love them dearly, have mastered the art of distroying every outing, activitiy or event? Do they constantly argue, put each other down, criticize one another and their behavior is just over-the-top?

How do you handle them? Have you ever confronted them about their behavior? What has been their response and why do you continue to invite them out?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Spiritual Crisis: God’s Word and Strength of Spouse Defeats enemy

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Today I had a crisis of spiritual proportion. Mind you, before I read and prayed this morning I asked God to expose and reveal His word to me in a way like never before. As I read my devotional, today’s scripture was Philippians 4:6, “To be anxious for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your request be made known unto God.” Like with other scriptures I’ve read many times before, there was some revelation that I missed before. The word “supplication” caught my attention and sent me on a search. I sat with a King James Bible, a New Living Translation Bible and a Matthew Henry Commentary on the entire Bible. I needed answers and if I couldn’t get it from these resources, I’d have to pull out the other five Bibles.

Why was this word piercing me so?

The King James Bible defines “supplication” as: more than petitioning, but suggests an intensity of earnestness in extended prayer – not to gain merit by many words, but to fully transfer the burden of one’s soul into God’s hands. For several months I’ve been struggling in the “prayer” department. I’ve been praying, but it’s lost something; maybe an intensity of earnestness, maybe urgency? As I read those words, “intensity of earnestness,” I think this just may be it. I may have just found out what’s been going on.

The Thesaurus says some nouns that describe intensity are: strength, power, passion and force; whereas, some adjectives that describe earnest are: serious, sober, deep and sincere. I honestly believe that I’ve lost all of these, except sincerity. So what does this say about my prayer life when I do pray?

Nonetheless, this lost feeling was the catalyst for Kevin and my intense fellowship several weeks back. (Refer to blog entitled: “Intense Fellowship” and you’ll see what I mean.) I had even gotten to the point where praying about some very important things, that were once REALLY significant, were now falling by the way side.

As I sat reading God’s Word back to myself and welcoming His revelation into my life this morning, Kevin walked in and asked what I was reading. I told him and began to share with him my lack of intensity of earnestness in prayer and how, after reading Phil. 4:6 in Matthew Henry Commentary, he says,”…We must likewise persevere in particular requests, not withstanding some present discouragements and repulses.”
Not only was I not praying with intensity of earnestness, but I wasn’t persevering despite my discouragements and repulses; I had given up.

What happened next further expresses the love of the God we serve. Kevin, taken aback by the fact that I wasn’t really praying and that I was discouraged, had this look of sadness on his face. I asked him what was wrong and he said, “Babe, I didn’t know you were struggling with this. If you’re having an issue with praying, then I must carry this burden and help you through this." He said that my burden was now his burden to carry. Here I was thinking I was going to be able to leave my burdens with God and God graciously allowed my husband to offer to carry them as well. I now have my two heros, not only responding to my cry for help, but coming to the fight ready and fully loaded.

Needless to say, prayer after that was on fire! The strength of God and my husband helped me to overcome my crisis. The Bible does say that, “A cord of three stands is hard to break!" Eccl. 4:12.

The enemy got whooped this morning!!!!!

Praise God!

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Great Debate: Loving Your Children More Than Your Spouse is Wrong, Right.

Hey Covenant Groupies,

For years I’ve witnessed, been in discussion with and heard of Christian and non-Christian marriages that are suffering because one spouse has somehow seen fit to overwhelm the love for their spouse onto their children. Kevin and I aren’t parents yet, but for the life of both if us, we want to believe that we know better. We’ve discussed this so much; for the sake of not making the same mistake. I don’t think you need to necessarily be a parent to know that this hurtful shift will damage your relationship, build both resentment and bitterness. Simply, it’s wrong, right? Do you agree or not?

Just like I know not to steal, lie or cheat, I know that NO ONE comes before my spouse except God Himself.

This conversation came up again as we revisited something we saw back in 2005. Kevin and I watched writer Ayelet Waldman on Oprah’s show and was so impressed with this woman’s conviction to love her husband more than her four children. She had written an article called, “Truly, Madly, Guiltily,” for The New York Times March of 2005, in which she questioned her truth. She said, “I don't just desire my husband every bit as much as the day we met 16 years ago. I love him more than my children,” “Why do I seem to be the only mother who hasn't transferred all the burning passion I felt for my husband to my children? Why aren't my precious children the centre of my universe, as they appear to be for every other mother?” This statement along with many others incited so much flack from women all around the world and landed her on Oprah’s show. For instance, she says, “But, while I cherish the time I have with my children, I'm not in love with any of them. I am in love with my husband. It is his face - not theirs - that leaves me aching with infatuated devotion. Quite simply, I love my husband more than I love my children.”

That’s deep and difficult for most people to hear. How does it make you feel?

Kevin and I found it funny that Oprah thought it appropriate to sit this woman directly in the middle of woman who were seated in a circular style around her; almost as if to intimidate her. Nonetheless, she stood her ground, no matter what those women threw her way. Out of everyone in the studio, I think there were only 2 or 3 women who agreed with her. All the others thought he was an awful mother.
Similar to Jesus, it wasn’t what the majority said, but what He knew and believed. That’s what we liked about Ayelet.

Read this beautifully controversial article and share your thoughts with me.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Marital Forgiveness: Bravely Opting-In

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Far too often, as couples, we find unjustified reasons to hold marital indiscretions over our spouse’s heads as if we have or will never fall prey ourselves. Certainly some indiscretions are worse than others however, does not everyone deserve forgiveness? Repeatedly, we make the mistake of believing that we and not God determine what’s just/unjust, good/bad and acceptable/unacceptable in our relationships.

As I read the Book of Hosea today (which is a very deep book), more specifically, Chapter 3, where Hosea, whose name means “salvation or deliverer,” was told by God to go out and find, redeem and reconcile his adulterous wife her back to himself, I thought of how difficult it was for him to make sense of all of this; could I have or be him? Did he find this just, good and acceptable? From the very beginning, God told Hosea that his chosen wife was going to run after other men, become a prostitute and even have children with them. OUCH!!!!!! Imagine being told before you got married how difficult it was going to be; how unreasonable, uncompromising, unfaithful – both physically and spiritually, how selfish, uncaring, distant, unkind, mean, your spouse was going to be. Would we bravely opt-in or fearfully opt-out?

As I’ve said before, Kevin and I both agree that there are no “do over’s” for our first year of marriage. Without question, had we known what it was going to be like; how we were going to constantly hurt one another and abuse our love for one another, we would have fearfully, opted-out, all because our limited intellect wouldn’t be allowed to determine the justice, the good and the acceptable. When Kevin and I first began dating he used to say when referring to our relationship, “I want easy,” this first year was the total opposite. He no longer seeks easy, in close to 7 years marriage; we’ve learned that this ministry is no place for easy, but a place to bravely opt-in; to offer forgiveness freely, unselfishly and lovingly.

Hosea had the meaning of unwavering forgiveness, repentance, redemption, love and most importantly obedience seared on his heart and we should to.

Excellent pointers from Hosea:
Hosea: His sensitivity toward the sinful condition of his countrymen and his sensitivity toward the loving heart of God fitted him for this difficult ministry. What do you have sensitivity for? Line it next to your marriage and determine if the sensitivities are equal or does one receive more attention than the other?
Hosea: God’s solution for Hosea’s difficult ministry was to let the prophet be his own sermon. Are you willing to be your own sermon? Are you willing to sacrificially walk the gospel?
BIG LESSON: We cannot separate our witness and our ministries from our lives. Hosea’s strongest sermon was his relationship with his wife. The source of his power for preaching was his home and his family. How difficult is it to come up short on our sermon when we separate our witness and ministry from our lives? What is the source of your power for preaching? Do you have a source?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - What Do You Do When Love and Like are Difficult?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Has there been a moment in your marriage when you realize that you don't love or like your spouse? This is a difficult; yet very real concept. It happens everyday. Upon your discovery, what was that revelation like for you? How did it make you feel? What did you do about it?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Love Over Law - Modeling Godly Attitudes

Hey Covenant Groupies,

My blog today was scheduled to be about 1 Peter 3:1-7. Discussing how we wives can be godly examples to their unsaved husbands. Furthermore, that we often alienate, become pushy towards and even neglect our saved spouses that may be operating a little slower in their walk. This is what God drew my attention to this morning. Verse 2 says – “Husbands may be won to the Lord “… as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” I guess there’s something God wants to continue to point out the importance of modeling His values to our spouses.

In reference to this scripture, my King James Bible says, “Our attitudes toward our mates are governed by our attitudes toward God. A husband may fall short of a wife’s expectations and of God’s ideal for a husband. Nevertheless, she seeks in every way to be a good wife, modeling her behavior on Christ, who obeyed and trusted the Father even when Hs own people rejected Him. Or, a wife may disappoint her husband, disregard his authority, or withhold her respect. Nevertheless, a husband honors his wife, cares for her, and prays for her, modeling his behaviors on the Father, who “knows our frame.”

This is something I truly believe. As we struggle to love our spouses unconditionally, there will be moments when we will feel justified in treating them in some of the not so pleasing ways they’ve treated us. However, and I’ve learned this personally, it does backfire. God will hold us accountable ONLY for our actions, not our spouses. Our marital roles have been defined and laid out for us and that’s how we’re expected to operate.

Then I read this in “Marriage Plus: The Bible and Marriage”

“A problem can arise when a wife, hungry for God, gets heavily involved with the things of God, including church activities, and starts neglecting her husband. As she gets busier and busier, he grows angrier and angrier. She is often gone when he feels he needs her; when she’s home, she keeps trying to lead him to Christ by telling him how much she “loves Jesus.” She talks on and on about Jesus. Jesus is so wonderful. Jesus takes care of her. Jesus blesses her. She hangs Jesus’ picture in the bathroom where her husband is sure to see it. Or, at night, thinking herself spiritual, she props up her pillow, reads her Bible and avoids having sex with her unspiritual husband. And she wonders why he avoids Jesus Christ, Christianity, church and her.

Quite unthinkingly, she isn’t drawing her husband to Jesus Christ. She’s driving him away. The husband is silently growing jealous of Christ. It’s as if his wife has a new lover, worst of all, an invisible one! If the husband could see this new contender for his wife’s love, he very well might fight him. But how does a husband fight Jesus Christ? He can only retreat, because his wife obviously loves Christ more than she does him.”

This too, was amazing and quite personal for me. At first I read it and it was quite funny to me, but the Lord convicted my heart to a conversation Kevin had with me several years ago. I recalled him telling me that he was jealous of how engrossed I was with the things of God; the reading, Bible Study, conversations and all the calls about godly things. I truly thought that I was expressing my excitement and he felt that I was living another life absent of him. I thought I was doing exactly what I (“I” being the problem) was supposed to be doing, but “what about me,” was Kevin’s question. He had no idea how to compete nor was he willing to.

Yes, we are supposed to have our own personal relationship with God, but not at the cost of your spouses’ walk. God would much rather we honor love over the law. Sometimes we become so busy concentrating on the law of the Bible and love for God, our spouses and others get clouded out.

How are we doing at modeling God's attitude?

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Modeling Values - Our Marriages Will Change and Shape Lives

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Without trying, we model our values to everyone we come in contact with; our spouses, children, strangers, neighbors and so on. When we looked at our spouse in an irritated manner, someone saw us. When we spoke harshly to our children, someone heard us. When we looked a little too long at the opposite sex in a lustful way, someone saw us do that too. All of these incidences told other people what’s not only important to us, but what we value. As well, we’ve also taught others just how to treat our spouses, our children or our struggle; either identical to our very own treatment or with compassion and mercy.

Despite the many eyes and ears that inadvertently partake in our jaded character issues and despite how displeased and uncomfortable they may have been, God too, was present and He too was displeased.

After all it’s God’s pleasure that matters most isn’t it? Yet, often we forget that He mercifully preordained us for ministry; the toughest ministry here on earth; a ministry that’s specific and distinct in exemplifying His values, character, morals and ethics – no more – no less. He allowed us to marry someone to live out His Covenant with for the rest of our lives; a partner to love and to co-parent with. He eradicated lives of loneliness for us.

How do we model that gift?

Several years ago, the whole concept of “being an example” or in this case “value modeling” became brutally clear Kevin and me when we were at my brother and sister-in-laws house. Sian(pronounced Shawn), my nephew, pictured above and soon to be 14years old, was about 10 years old at the time and everyone had gone in the kitchen to get more food (that’s what we do at my brother’s house, WE EAT! He’s a chef). After goofing around with Kevin a bit, he too headed to the kitchen and as he was leaving I simply thanked him for getting my food (my back was aching severely). Out of the blue, Sian took Kevin spot on the couch, proceeded to put his head on my shoulder and said to me, “Auntie, when I grow up I want a wife just like you.” With a confused look on my face, I asked him what he meant. He said that he likes the way I treat his uncle; how we have fun, how I listen to him, but more importantly, how I talked to his uncle. That blew my mind and yes brought tears to my eyes. The conversation was a little longer, but you get the point.

Sian witnessed my value for Kevin and Kevin’s value for me.

What a new perspective this was for Kevin and me. Since being married, Kevin and I have always heard both encouraging and discouraging comments about our relationship by those close to us and those that don’t know us at all and it never moved nor concerned us. However, this day, things changed and so did we. We began to understand how EVERYTHING we do, as a couple, influences people to love God and others or just the opposite, to define their future with hope or not; possibilities or not, love or not or to say yes to marriage or not. WHOA!!!!!! Isn’t that what God offers us; love, hope, possibilities, a future, free will and some even get a partner to share the ride?

As we continue to persevere to love our spouses with a pure heart, clear conscience and sincere faith, we will most certainly fail, but God will not. His character is spot on, he values us and He’s more than willing to guide and instruct us along the way.