Friday, October 30, 2009

What is Love? - Oswald Chambers

Hey Covenant Groupies,

At the same time I found the quote by Dr. Larry Crabb, I also found this one by Oswald Chambers. I love the perspective he has on love by declaring what it is and what it is not. It's short, sweet and to the point.

Tell me what you think about this.

What is Love?

If human love does not carry a man beyond himself, it is not love. If love is always discreet, always wise, always sensible and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not love at all. It may be affection, it may be warmth of feeling, but it is not the true nature of love in it. – Oswald Chambers

What is love to you?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - Who are your marital influencers?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

We all know that there are people in our lives that will serve tremendous and godly purposes as we continue to be students of God's love in our marriages. Although, not all of the people will mean us and our marriage well; God knows what he's doing. He knows who we need and why we need them. Some are our sources of encouragement, correction, recreation, ministry and much more; how we engage them will determine if we truly understand why they ever came into our lives in the first place.

God has made us aware of those who should remain in our "Sacred Culture" of marriage. Who are they? Who are the people and/or couple(s) that has/have journied alongside you in your marriage and help you continue to grow? Not everyone has the courage to be honest and encouraging when it comes to marriage, but God has sent us our needs in other people for a reason; for a season. Who's sharing this season with you and has God revealed the reason?

Shout them out.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sacrificing for Others - Praying for Married Couples

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Below, please find the remaining 6 prayers you can pray for any and everyone you know that's married. The first six were shared on Thursday October 15th and is titled, "Burden Bearers." I know I'm a little behind, but I promise I'll get better at organizing all of the entries.


7. Help each to learn to give thanks for the conditions the other routinely provides to aid in his or her development of unconditional love. May they begin to see each other as Your guidance, help, encouragement and, at times provocation to learn and strengthen their obedience to You. (Romans 8:28, I Thessalonians 5: 18)

8. Let each begin to see conflict between them as a request for something You desire from each, so that You can make more of Yourself available to them—both to their awareness and benefit. (Romans 11: 36)

9. Show each of them that the best response to conflict is to own their respective contributions and be willing to be made willing to offer You that which You desire. (James 5: 16)

10. Give each a new and an ever-increasing desire for holiness and holy living and relating to one another that necessarily follows. (I Thessalonians 4: 3-8)

11. In all enable them to see that the very best gift they can give each other is the freedom to be who each is, even when it does not agree with what one thinks is right, knows is right or pleases God. This is forgiveness. (Matthew 18: 21, 22)

12. That when at least one of them changes in response to an awareness of Your presence that the quality of interactions between them change favorably. Now make them completely one as You and Your Son and the Holy Spirit. (Proverbs 16: 7)

. . . for it is in Your Name, the Name of Your Only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, I pray.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Obey God – Give Unconditionally

Hey Covenant Groupies,

As you alredy know, I love Dr. Larry Crabb and his biblical perspective on marriage. He's totally committed to God's Word when it comes to the Covenant of Marriage. Many other Christian authors use his quotes and I found one today.

Read it below:

"The willingness to give unconditionally does not come by simply deciding to be selfless. The stain of self-centeredness requires many washings before it no longer controls our motivation. Many commitments to minister and much time spent with God will transpire before we know what it means to give. Our job is to learn faithfulness and to press on in obedience, not giving in to discouragement or weariness, believing that God will always honor the conscious and persevering motivation to serve Him. When a spouse becomes more critical, drinks more heavily, or rejects efforts of ministry, we are to continue in our obedience, believing that our responsibility before God is to obey and trust Him for the outcome." – Lawrence J. Crabb Jr.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Always Pointing to God’s Purpose: Effective Communication

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Kevin and I had a disagreement that turned to an argument today and throughout, I tried to remain clear headed and patient, but I felt myself becoming emotional and angry. We were both becoming exasperated with the conversation. He’s trying to explain his point, but in his explanation, he’s becoming accusatory. I’m asking how I can better help in this particular situation and I felt he wasn’t hearing me. We were not communicating effectively and God was not being honored at all. Kevin decided to end the argument, which always angers me; why do we seem to always give in to the heat of the moment? As soon as I walked away the Holy Spirit dumped into my spirit James Why do we fight…because we do not get what we want?”

What did I want? What did Kevin want? We both had a GOAL and a DESIRE, but we took the wrong route to get what was needed. Although our goal is identical, it was our desires that we were truly fighting over. He was trying to force an emotional response out of me and I was trying to be heard; neither of us were effective because our strategies were selfish and not selfless.

Why do we communicate? More than likely, in our human-ness, it’s to manipulate, but God wants us to communicate in order to minister and that starts with honesty. We must first be honest about the situation and how it’s made us feel. Emotional anger and righteous anger are certainly not the same; yet we’ll fight over emotional anger because it’s about us. We’ll fight for hours; even years. It’s fleshly and stupid – not our emotions, but how we go about communicating them to one another. Righteous anger is not so easy and not too many barge the front line in order to fight that fight, because it has absolutely NOTHING to do with us. It’s supernatural and it’s always about someone else being mistreated. How do you fight on that person’s behalf when you’re the one mistreating? It doesn’t require you to stand toe-to-toe with another person using the word “I” at all. It’s not manipulation; it’s ministry.

I understand that men and women do communicate differently. I also understand that we fight over and for the same things – self preservation, but I believe couples truly touch the heart of God when we properly assess our goals, our desires and specifically why we’re communicating. Goals are objectives we work towards and desires are those very intricate things in our relationship that we really need from our spouses, but we fall so easily into manipulating our needs from our spouses as oppose to praying about them.

When our needs are met we are available to be all that our spouses need; when our desires are met we are available to feel significant and whole with and for our spouse.

Our communication has to always point towards God’s purposes in our marital relationship, not just getting our needs met. God is the great provider of our needs; we should never try to manipulate our loved ones; it’s happens too easily and too often.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - Have You Had to Eat Your Words?

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Kevin is soooo much better today. Thank God!

Since Wednesday is officially "Question of the Day!" day and we missed it yesterday, I have one for you today.

Before you were married were the monitoring of your words an important element of your relationship? Did you commit to not saying certain things to your spouse like being unkind, rude, disrespectful, holding on to resentments, bitterness, grudges or anger. As well, did you make a conscious decision to always be loving and hold no hate or disdain for this person you stood across from with tear in your eyes?

Like me, I'm quite sure you did. However, tell me how that's worked out for you. Currently, I'm laughing because I know I haven't been completely successful.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Kevin's Better Than Yesterday, but Still Down - SAD FACE!

Hey Groupies,

My baby is troopin it through. Although he doesn't feel well, he's had a great attitude about it. You know how people get sick and are as grumpy as they wanna be; makin you just as miserable as them? Not my boo-boo, Kevin's holdin' on and will come through this victorious.

Again, please keep us in your prayers!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kevin Not Feeling Well - SAD FACE!!!!

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Unfortunately, I have nothing to report or share today. My wonderful husband in waaaaaaaay under the weather and I have been focusing on taking care of him. God willing, I'll be back tomorrow.

Keep us in your prayers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Ultimate Miracle: The Gift of Offering

Hey Covenant Groupies,

During my morning reading I read John 6:1-15. At the end of chapter 5, Jesus had just finished telling the Jewish leaders “who He is” and how HE doesn’t do ANYTHING without first being told by the Father to do it. Mind you the disciples also where present. As well He talked about how the Father and John the Baptist would testify about Him; He would not do it Himself. He convicted them of not believing in Him and His miracles because they did not have God’s love in their heart – WHOA!

Fast forward and Jesus decides to cross the Sea of Galilea and a huge crowd follows Him. In the mist of the teaching people become hungry. The disciples go to Jesus to ask what they should do – they had no food or money. All of the experience, resources, walking with Christ and they thought that feeding, what amounted to be 5,000 people, would be impossible for God. Did they not have God’s love in their heart? They had personally witnessed Jesus’ miracles for some time now.

Among the 5,000, Andrew found a young boy who had five barley loaves and two fish, he offered to give the little he had to Jesus. Jesus gave thanks to God for the bread and the fish, fed EVERYONE and there were leftovers. The boy sacrificed the little he had just to be among the many that witness how BIG God really is.

This scripture made me wonder about offering. What do we offer God – daily? Do we offer a lot, a little, or nothing at all? Do we offer up what God has already provided for us and watch Him work? I wonder if our marriages, husbands, wives, children, community, friends, careers, choices, prayer lives, Christian walk, Spiritual Gifts etc become part of what we offer back to God.

The young boy in the scripture offered Jesus what certainly looked impossible, but I believe his faith and Jesus’ desire to get people to understand who He was, created a wonderful miracle. This boy’s perspective was simply, nothing is too hard for God. He looked at the eternal ramifications not the earthly situation. What a great lesson for us all.

Do we avail ourselves to God for his service? Do we offer up what little we have in order to see God work HUGE humanly impossible miracles? This Covenant He’s created with us in our marriages requires that we constantly offer something; our weaknesses, our inability to love, our fears, our hurts, our selfishness, our compassion, mercy, grace, our service, our submission etc.

We must be mindful of our offerings to God – they certainly do matter. The miracle is obviously in the offering.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Propositioning Our Spouses – How Indecent

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Why do we often feel the need to proposition our spouses into getting what we desire? Too often we don’t believe that our spouses will meet our needs the way we want them to, so we offer an agreement. If you… Then I’ll… This way of relating often reminds me of when I was in grade school and I would propose a benefit to a “friend” if they, in turn, would do something for me. It ALWAYS worked back then, but now as adults we need to think twice before living in a Covenant Marriage this way. God doesn’t say, “If you obey me, then I’ll love you” or “Only if you’re a good-willed person, will I bless you.” Why do we think we can say such nonsense to our husbands and wives, could anything be more indecent?

This type of relating forces our marriages to become contracts, business agreements. Only in these types of relationships is someone always expected to DO something. If that “something” is not accomplished, then there’s anger, frustration, bitterness and lack of hope in the home. If that “something” is not accomplished often then divorce becomes an option; all because we feel compelled to manipulate our spouses to get something now (temporary) as opposed to minister to them in order to experience (eternity) here on earth.

Do we really believe that we must control EVERYTHING in the relationship, when all God asks us to do is have faith and trust Him in our marriages. I have truly come to believe and know that if I do what God tells me, he’ll manifests some of my desires and much more in Kevin and my marriage. We’ve experienced some beautiful moments once we’ve believe God to do what He promised.

Whether I’ve needed more love, affection, attention, romance etc, I’ve learned two very important things: 1) communicate my need to Kevin in a language that he can receive and/or 2) pray sincerely about it. For me it’s just that simple, anything else will be a carnal and temporary solution with negative ramifications. My needs are so very important to God and I know that at the depths of my soul. He will not leave nor forsake us!

I trust God to lead me into a place of peace and solitude as I do this because He’s not the author of confusion and He’d rather there be peace in our home as we seek His guidance to live in this MYSTERY than there being anything that distracts from us exemplifying Christ and the Church.

It's not easy, but it's certainly not impossible either.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Real Love - Creator of Your Blue Print

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Have you ever seen or known of a couple and because of how they relate to one another, immediately think to yourself, “I’d like to have what they have.” I must say I’ve never done that, but recently, I have truly admired and been excited at how the Obama’s have made black love and family exactly what it has always been; sexy, real and necessary!

I asked the above question because over the years people have, I guess innocently; maybe without even thinking, said they wanted what Kevin and I have. What that is and what it looks like to others, especially in the wake of hearing people say how fake our relationship is, how we really don’t love one another as we pretend to, how real love is not so easy and a host of other things we’ve heard. I don’t know, but I “Thank God” for exemplifying His love. And to be quite honest, we LIKE one another so very much. I can only surmise that Real Love is sometimes unrecognizable to some; it certainly was to us.

Furthermore, how do you hate on love?

Anyhoo, I’ve often wondered if people would want what we had if they knew EVERYTHING we’ve gone through to get where we are today. God is not done with us and our journey certainly wasn’t easy. Kevin and I have been through a great deal; to the point of threatening to leave one another very early on in our marriage. At the time marriage just required too much “giving up.” Neither one of us was prepared for the sacrifice; we said we were, but truly we weren’t.

It’s glorious and often comforting to have someone, something or even somewhere that gives us hope in our marital voyage; a blue print if you will that give us a glimpse of what we’d love to have. Let’s just be sure to research the creator(s) of the blue print before we leap into desiring the same road map.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Burden Bearers: 12 Things to Pray For Married Couples

Hey Covenant Groupies,

There's a husband and wife by the name of Revs. Tony and Kim Moore, who Pastor a church in Atlanta, GA. I've been following their marriage ministry for quite some time now and I love it! They have a truly RADICAL approach to marriage; it makes you look at yourself and then how serious we intend to exemplify Christ and the church in our marital relationships.

They recently sent out "12 Things to Pray For Married Couples" and I thought it would be more interesting to give the first six today and the following six next Tuesday. As well, I also thought it would be great to ask that you choose 5 couples that you know and pray these prayers specifically for them; for as long as you want.

This is simply an exercise in carrying another couples burdens and taking them to God in prayer.

Let me know what happens.

Father, in the Name of Jesus . . .

1. Reveal to each of them that when they said, “I do,”each made vows to You and thereby, entered into a covenant relationship with you and that You, Father never give them a reason to violate this covenant. But rather, it is Your Holy Spirit that enables them to keep the covenant and receive restoration when they violate the covenant. (Colossians-1:10,3:17)

2. Open the eyes of the hearts of husbands and wives that belong to you that they see their vows and resulting marriage covenant as the ultimate example and experience of the Christian Life. That is, that each sees the life, death, burial and resurrection of Christ as the manner and way of becoming one with each other. (Philippians 3: 9-11)

3. That husbands and wives perceive and experience the unconditional love you, Father have for each and thus they also ought to have for one another. Fill them beyond capacity with this love so that they may be able to comprehend with one another the depth, height and length of this love. (Romans 5: 5, 8)

4. Live and move in each of them, just as you were in Christ, reconciling each other to You Lord. (II Corinthians 5: 18, 19)

5. Bless each with the grace to yield to Your Life—Father Your way of thinking and behaving, even at the expense of their own pleasure and benefit. (Philippians 2: 1-8)

6. Renew their desire to keep the vows they made to by choosing to live in a manner that their spouse and all those You have given them to influence have every opportunity to intimately know You and Your Son, Jesus Christ. (I John 1: 9 and 2: 12)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Hey Covenant Groupies,

I was discussing love with a friend today as she takes care of an ailing family member. We talked about sacrifice, serving and selflessness; all which are supernatural. This leads me to today's question:

Since we don't know how to love naturally and our lessons in love don't start in marriage; where did we learn to love? Who imprinted their love style on us and does that style still work for us? When it comes to our spouses, which life experiences have influenced how we love them?

More than one question, I know, but they all go together.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

OUR CHOICE: Know God – Know Covenant No God – No Covenant

Hey Covenant Groupies,

I thought of something today that was brought to my attention sometime last year when Kevin and I had the “Covenant vs. Contract” by Dave Brown and Philip Waugh small group at our home. We talked about knowing God through your spouse. Not a popular concept to wrap your head around when you first hear it, but powerful all the same.

To be exact, it reads, “Learn about God from each other…because what you believe about God greatly impacts what you believe about marriage.” It goes on to say, “Just because your wedding was held in a church doesn’t make it a Covenant Marriage,” choice does. We must choose to let God demonstrate His love to others through your marriage. Seriously, how many of us think of others when we think of our marriage and how we relate to one another? But that’s what knowing God is all about – abiding in Him, getting to know him intimately and then reflecting who He is to others via our relationship.

So that means friends, family, children, co-workers, parents, etc. will either truly get to know God through the two of you - OR NOT! Will you allow your marriage to be used by God for the sake of other people's salvation.

This choice comes with trust; a trust of God and your spouse. Be aware this is not a natural trust but a supernatural one. There is absolutely no way to trust the way God calls us to with out being in relationship with Him. A marriage takes two people, but a Covenant Marriage takes three.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Off Today - Columbus Day!!!!

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Kevin and I are off today. We hope you all spent some valuable time together and discovered something new about ne another and/or refreshed something once exciting in your marriage.

Let us know.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Good Intentions: Not Always Enough

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Sad day today! Kevin and had a disagreement in the midst of a good day. Don’t you just dislike those? Although all dsagreements become great lessons, nevertheless, they do dampen what has strated u as a great day.

We went in the store for one thing but Kevin immediately became distracted by something else. Because we specifically knew what we were in there for I didn’t follow him to his distraction. He proceeded to ask me to come back, but I said, “That’s not what we’re in here for.” His response was, “But you know I need this.” I said, “You don’t need that, you want that.” It was ON after that! Groupies, we were arguing over a paper shredder. We have done so for about 4 years now. In which time, Kevin has purchased 3 shredders; all have burned out in very short periods of time. In my mind, each purchase has amounted to wasted money, my beloved does not agree.

You see, Kevin has an insurmountable amount of mail that has piled up. I have always believed that if you handled the mail as soon as it came in there would be no pile-up; again, my beloved does not agree. He believes that as long as he has a shredder, only then can he dispose of the mail. UGGGGGHHH!

My intention was to simply keep us on track in the store, not to hurt Kevin, but my intentions weren’t enough and I did hurt him. Later we did discuss how he perceived what he thought I meant; which after he explained it, could most definitely be hurtful. I asked him to only hear what I said, not what he thought I meant and I further explained how I really needed his help with keeping a handle on the mail pile-up.

After which, we had a great lunch.

However, as I went over the disagreement in my head, I couldn’t help but recall the book of James chapter 4:1-2 – “1What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2You want something but don't get it…”

Conclusion: Kevin wanted a shredder and I wanted a smaller mail pile. We must help each other in these areas.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Celebrating Our Men

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Nothing big to share. I had a lot to do today and I'm beat. I just wanted to ask the wives to be intentional in celebrating our men. It's Friday night and Kevin and I would usually be on a date tonight, however his new job has him filming some late Friday nights. I wanted to be annoyed, but how could be - he's at work. Working to provide for us; to be sure that we have all that we need to tithe, live, share and eat.

Instead I choose to celebrate him and his godly manhood. He is an absolutely great man. We'll go on a date tomorrow night and maybe Sunday.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Man's Fears - Pray About Them

Hey covenant Groupies,

In keeping with our Pastor's Bible Study on living a fearless life, I prayed for my husband and his fears thanks to Mrs. Stormie Omartian and "Power of a Praying Wife." Over the years, this book has supported me at those times when I couldn't pray and when I didn't know what to pray for Kevin. In addition to my specific prayers for him, today this book helped again.

Join me.

Lord, You've said in Your Word that "there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love" (1John 4:18) I pray that You will perfect my husband in You love so that tormenting fears find no place in him. I know that You have not given him a spirit of fear. You've given him power, love and a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7). I pray in the name of Jesus that fear will not rule over my husband. Instead may Your word penetrate every fiber of his being, convincing him that Your love for him is far greater than anything he faces and nothing can separate him from it.
I pray that he will acknowledge You as a Father whose love is unfailing, whose strength is without equal, and in whose presence there is nothing to fear. Deliver him this day from the fear that destroys and replace it with godly fear (Jeremiah 32:40). Teach him Your way, O Lord, Help him to walk in Your truth. Unite his heart to fear Your name (psalm 86:11) May he have no fear of men, but rise up and boldly say "The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6) "How great is Your goodness, which You have laid up for those who fear You" (Psalm 31:19)

I say to you ____________________" Be strong, do not fear! Behold you God will come with a vengeance, with the recompense of God; He will come and save you" (Isaiah 54:14) "You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day, not of the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday" (Psalm (91:5,6)May the Spirit of the Lord rest upon you." the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord" (Isaiah 11:12)

Through Jesus


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - Loving Based of Faith or Fear

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Got a head banga for ya! We're in a Bible Study that breaks open our true intentions as Christians - living without FEAR.

So, here' the question: Do you love your spouse and others based on faith or fear; permanency or illusion; heaven or earth; facts or feelings; on the Cross or circumstances? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Peacemakers: Restore, Reconcile and Resolve

Hey Covenant Groupies,

I recently read this article and thought that it was not only making a great point about reconciling and restoring relationships, but that it relates so very well to our marriages - DAILY. When was the last time, gulty or innocent, you had to demonstrate God's peace in your home with your spouse?

October 3, 2009
Restoring Relationships: Reconciliation, Not Always Resolution
by Rick Warren

"Work hard at living in peace with others" (1 Peter 3:11 NLT).

The seventh biblical step toward restoring a relationship is to emphasize reconciliation, not resolution.

It's unrealistic to expect everyone to agree about everything. Reconciliation focuses on the relationship, while resolution focuses on the problem. When we focus on reconciliation, the problem loses significance and often becomes irrelevant.

We can re-establish a relationship even when we are unable to resolve our differences. Christians often have legitimate, honest disagreements and differing opinions, but we can disagree without being disagreeable.

The same diamond looks different from different angles. God expects unity, not uniformity, and we can walk arm in arm without seeing eye to eye on every issue.

This doesn't mean you give up on finding a solution. You may need to continue discussing and even debating--but you do it in a spirit of harmony. Reconciliation means you bury the hatchet, not necessarily the issue.

With whom do you need to restore fellowship? Pause right now and talk to God about that person. Then pick up the phone and begin the process. The seven steps toward restoring relationships are simple, but they’re not easy. It takes a lot of effort to restore a relationship. That's why Peter urged, "Work hard at living in peace with others" (1 Peter 3:11 NLT).

But when you work for peace, you are doing what God would do. That's why God calls peacemakers his children.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Does God Expect Me to Stay Married to a Jerk? - Let's Not Reject Jesus' Character in Lieu of Temporary Happiness

Hey Covenant Groupies,

Do you believe that there is REAL ETERNAL beauty and reward as we suffer in our mariages.

I read this article on and knew it was mandatory to post. Share your thoughts after reading.

Years ago, a family therapist was asked, “What are the top three causes of divorce?” to which he replied, “Selfishness, selfishness, selfishness!” Of course this is an oversimplification of the varied and many contributing factors to divorce but there is an element of truth in this statement that permeates each.

At the core of all that ails the human race is selfishness: this innate love of self-self-worship-or pride. We alienate ourselves from one another when we elevate our desires, our opinions, and our feelings above others. We cheat and steal because we want, we lie and deceive because we give priority to our self-interests, we murder-in actuality or with words-because our puny sense of supremacy is threatened. This is the very sin that separates us from God: our love of self over and against the Father. In short, we are deplorably selfish beings consumed with satisfying our own appetites and desires, often without regard for anyone else.

This is the dreadful state in which the Lord finds us-and despite our active resistance to his rightful rule in our hearts, our thoughts, and actions, he lovingly subdues our rebellious pride with his grace and mercy. He saves us from eternal alienation that our stubborn resistance brings! The old man, so infatuated with himself, is crucified and buried with Christ; we are raised to a new life in Christ (see Romans 6:4). However, this new life doesn’t just happen. Our will, which was once in bondage to sin, has been freed to pursue godliness in obedience to Christ through faith. Paul, writing to the church at Ephesus, tells us that we are to be taught to cast away our “old self” and “to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness” (Ephesians 4:22–24, NIV). C. S. Lewis summed it up in saying, “To become new men means losing what we now call ourselves” (Mere Christianity).

The clearest clue to what this new self looks like is given in Paul’s letter to the Philippians when he writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness” (Philippians 2:5–7, NIV). This is a radical departure from our selfish nature into one that denies self even in the face of offense. This same nature is, of course, the foundation for marriage-but also all relationships.

In Ephesians, Paul lays out the foundation of marriage as being rooted in a mutual love and submission, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord” and “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:22, 25, NIV). Notice also that Paul begins this chapter with the charge to “Be imitators of God,” another reference to the disposition described in Philippians chapter two. Later in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul compares this joining of two people into “one flesh” to that of Christ and his bride, the church (see Ephesians 5:32). Thus marriage-this “profound mystery,” according to Paul-transcends anything resembling a mere contractual obligation. Nor is marriage simply a self-serving means to personal happiness; Christian couples should strive for and display this self-denying disposition.

Another aspect that should govern Christian marriage is the doctrine of God’s sovereignty.

Do we believe that when we suffer, we suffer outside the will of God, or do we believe that God allows suffering to enter our lives for his good purpose? Isn’t there the expectation that we, too, will share in the sufferings of Christ, that “we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22, NKJV)? While we do not eagerly seek to suffer, don’t we believe that suffering bears sweet fruit nourished by bitter tears and that such fruit is nothing less than holy character (see Romans 5:2–4)? If we believe that God in his providence causes everything to “work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose”(Romans 8:28, NLT), then wouldn’t it be reasonable to conclude that such suffering may also come in the form of a troubled marriage?

That being the case, wouldn’t we be expected to persevere rather than seek escape, trusting God for both endurance and the outcome? It is here-in the domain of our so-called domestic happiness-that we may be tempted to draw a boundary, saying, in essence, “Lord, you may come this far but no farther.” It is often in this context that the old self returns in an effort to assert his rights: “I need, I want, I deserve!” However, the Christian is compelled to lay down these rights and instead trust in God, believing that his grace is indeed sufficient in all things including an oppressive and loveless marriage. It is here that the Christian patiently endures, trusting the Lord for the grace to do so, and hopes for a future where God may be pleased to set things right.

Please do not think I am suggesting that the person suffering physical abuse remain in a situation whereby he or she is subjected to physical harm. I am not! However, that is a topic for another time, as I am presently addressing divorce for no other reason than the failure to achieve personal “happiness.” This is where we Christians either begin to differ from the world or remain worldly. The Christian life does not culminate in a quest to be happy but to be holy!

If our attitude is to be the same as that of Christ Jesus, then consider how Jesus responds to his frequently unfaithful bride, the church. Every one of us has, at some point, been unfaithful to Christ; we have wantonly rebelled against him, we have been indifferent, even abusive in our disregard toward him. We have all failed to love him at times and we constantly put our needs ahead of his. And yet Jesus never says to us, “That’s it, I’ve had it! I will not take this abuse anymore; you are selfish and uncaring; you don’t love me or make me feel special, so I am out of here!” Can you imagine these words coming out of the Savior’s mouth? Never!

So it is to be with us. For those poor souls who walk in darkness, there is no chance of assuming the self-denying character of Christ; but for those whom Christ has made alive, there is the all-sufficient well of grace. It is to Christ that the Christ-follower must go with his “irreconcilable differences,” not to the courts. It is only Christ who reconciles the unrighteous with the righteous and it is Christ that can reconcile husband and wife.

The question for the church is this: Will we truly trust him in all things, including while we suffer marital maelstroms? Will we follow Christ when it is most difficult? If we won’t, then not only will we fail in our witness, we will never know the freedom of living by faith.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

QUESTION OF THE DAY! - Servant Leadership

Hey Covenant Groupies,

I've been swamped for the past two days. Work, marriage and ministry Whooo-hooo! Anyhoo, I have a question for you: Servant Leadership - Does God's Divine ORDER reign in your home? Husbands do you lead and wives do you follow? Yes, I do mean this figuratively, literally and spiritually. Why do we always know the order to everything thing else in life with some intention to following that particular order, but when it comes to our marriages, we want to define the order? Do we really know the order to God's design of marriage and just simply refuse to follow? Hmmmmmmmmm.

Tell me how.