Category: Jul/Aug 2011

Things You Give Up After “I Do”

rings2The transition from single to married is not an easy one.  There are adjustments to make – including giving a few things up.

#1– Spending Time Alone With the Opposite Sex
It’s not about your level of self-control or whether or not you find the person attractive. Spending time alone with anyone of the opposite sex is dangerous. Any step towards adultery has to be recognized and avoided, such as dinner alone with a coworker, inviting someone over when your spouse isn’t home, or even carpooling alone together. It’s not about whether or not you’re actually having an affair, it’s about preventing an affair from ever occurring.

#2– Putting Yourself First
Marriage isn’t built to simply fulfill one person’s needs. It is designed to be a team of two people supporting each other, being each other’s strength in weak times, and working together to create a home and strong bond. As a single person, life tends to revolve around yourself, but when you get married you are willingly putting someone else first. Your life is no longer about your needs and wants, but making sure your spouse is getting their needs met first. This doesn’t mean to enable your spouse or to become a slave of their needs, but to be a loving helper.

#3– Flirting With the Opposite Sex
Don’t be tempted to see if you “still got it.” There are three parties that are hurt by mindless flirting: your spouse, the person you’re flirting with, and your marriage. Flirting outside of marriage is driven by selfish desires. As gratifying as the short term results may be, it’s the long term results that need to be taken into account. If you want to be flirtatious, turn to your spouse. Chances are they’ve been waiting for you to flirt with them all along!

#4– The Phrase “My Money”
How each married couple handles money successfully is different, but it is important that you discuss money as a couple. A lot of marriages are damaged because of financial conflict. Make sure to be considerate of your spouse’s opinion when it comes to your spending habits, despite who makes more or who’s better with money. Your life is now a combined account, and your bank account should be as well.

Passion and Commitment

touch2The hero looks deeply into the heroine’s eyes, getting ready to say what she’s been wanting him to say for weeks, months, or even years. He wraps his arms around her so tight that she is unable to escape, and confesses his undying, unquenchable love for her. He can’t live without her. He’d give up everything for her. And then he kisses her passionately for a good 5-10 seconds… and all the women in the movie theater sigh.

Ah, the female fantasy. It always involves some tight embrace or deep kiss, doesn’t it? In the female mind it is usually the symbol of a man desiring her completely– physically, emotionally, and even spiritually. But in reality, that’s not primarily the case.

Now, I’m not saying men are emotionless when it comes to sex or kissing, what I’m trying to say is that physical passion doesn’t always equal emotional passion. Sometimes we want so badly to be accepted and loved that we will mistake someone’s physical desire for us as the emotional passion we’ve been searching for.

The passion we want actually comes from emotional intimacy. It comes from knowing someone on a deep level. It comes from being able to trust someone fully; to feel accepted and wanted for who we are. It comes from a completely committed relationship.

But we can easily confuse commitment and passion.

Sometimes we dive too quickly into physical passion because we want emotional intimacy but it takes too long to sit down and emotionally connect with someone. In doing so, however, all we get out of our impatience is a broken heart or a messy relationship with a shaky foundation.

Commitment should come before passion, not the other way around. We need to protect our hearts, and not get carried away by feelings or the thrill of living romance novel scenarios. A kiss can be passionate, but if it’s not true, what good does it do us? In waiting for commitment first, we deepen the spiritual and emotional intimacy we’ve been seeking from physical contact, and we end up making it far more sweeter than it could ever be outside of commitment.

Passion isn’t commitment, but commitment winds up producing passion.

Redirection

roadsign2Sex drives are irritating beasts. Just when you think you’ve tamed it, it attacks you; and just when you think you’ve outran it, it jumps in front of you.

As Christians, we recite the rules involving our sex drives:

→ “I shouldn’t have sex before marriage.”
→ “I shouldn’t think about that guy/girl in that way. That’s lust.”
→ “I shouldn’t cross any physical boundary lines with this person.”

It seems to me that these thoughts don’t solve our problem, they just end up confusing and frustrating us. We question them.  What are the physical boundary lines I’m not supposed to cross?  Why can’t I think of this person in this way – just for a little while?  We recite the rules, but they don’t keep us out of trouble.  Their weight doesn’t even really impact us.

Sometimes “the rules” end up being nothing more than something similar to a rubberband snapping against our wrists whenever we have an impure thought. Is that helping us stay pure?  Does reciting the rules keep us from crossing boundary lines?

I want to suggest redirecting our thoughts. We focus so much on what God has told us not to do, that it’s we forget why He set up the boundaries in the first place. It has to do with wanting the best for us. It has to do with wanting to give us full, radical intimacy.  The reasons for the rules are actually incredibly exciting!

So try these thoughts on for size instead:

→ “I want to wait for sex until marriage because I know that will make it more rich than anything I can have right now.”
→ “My sex drive is bothering me today, but I know God intends to fulfill the desires He’s given me in due time. So I just have to pray and wait, not get frustrated or antsy.”
→ “Even though I could explore this physical act with this person now, it would be more exciting and satisfying to explore it with my future husband/wife later.”

God did not come up with rules to torture us, but to give us something more rewarding. If we dwell on what we can’t have or what’s forbidden, we will miss out on not only contentment as single individuals, but on the satisfying results of waiting for physical involvement until marriage. God can help us change our thoughts to be something more than just a weak rubberband snapping against our wrists. He can help us change it into a great hope and anticipation; a desire to wait and be satisfied while doing so.

Time of Patience

wait3Patience seems like more like a skill than a natural ability. It feels like an endurance test. And waiting is a frequent occurrence in relationships:

  • Waiting to meet the love of your life.
  • Waiting to marry the person you love.
  • Waiting for your spouse to break free of bad habits.
  • Waiting for a rough patch in your relationship to pass.
  • Waiting for the chaos to end.

It’s not easy. Patience is difficult, especially when you think things should be a certain way and they aren’t. Sometimes we even get impatient with God. We can wonder why He hasn’t taken care of our problems, or why He hasn’t fulfilled our desires.

But life isn’t about rushing through the rough or empty patches as quickly as possible. Each rough patch has a purpose. It has a design. It’s meant to refine us and build our character; to show us God’s hand in every detail. God doesn’t make you wait because He’s not paying attention or because He thinks your problem isn’t important, but because He wants to do something in you during that time. A lot of people in the Bible waited, but God delivered to them great things.

Don’t make waiting a passive activity. Consider it an opportunity to deepen your relationship with Christ, and to focus on the things that need your attention and prayer. While waiting to meet the love of your life, focus on your other relationships. While waiting for your spouse to break free of bad habits, pray for them and work on your own bad habits. While waiting for chaos to end, be still and know that He is God.

Remember that waiting and dwelling are two different verbs. Dwelling on an issue will rob you of constructive focus, but waiting is opportunity to get something else done in the meantime. Patience is difficult, but if we trust and delight in the Lord, it will ultimately be less painful and far more rewarding than going on without Him.

Verses to Think About
Romans 12:12
“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.”

Romans 40:1
“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. ”

James 1:12
“God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

Start a Relationship Prayer Group

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThink about starting a RPG– a Relationship Prayer Group.

There is no doubt that praying for others is impacting. There is also no doubt that we sometimes forget to pray for others when there isn’t some type of emergency.

Health, wealth, and happiness are great prayers to pray for others, but we should also pray for their romantic relationships as well. We can forget to do so, especially if someone is single, or if a couple has been together a long time and there doesn’t seem to be any major issues. Single or married, dating or widowed, each individual needs prayer for their romantic life.

Gather a group of 2-10 people, in person or even over the internet. Exchange emails and phone numbers, and pray for at least for one person each day of the week. Pray for:

→ Deliverance from the temptations of dating/affairs/divorce
→ Strength in lonely and hard times
→ A fulfilling married life/a fulfilling single season
→ Stronger intimacy for married couples
→ Loving and selfless decisions in dating and marriage
→ The healing of broken hearts and  freedoms from past hang ups
→ Prayers for becoming – as well as finding – a good spouse
→ Prayer that couples keep their relationships God-centered

This prayer group is also a good accountability group. Confess to one another what you’re struggling with and pray for each other. (Keep everything in your prayer group confidential. Gossiping breaks the trust in your group.) Encourage each other on your walks and support each other during hard times.

Our relationships are such a huge part of our emotional lives. There are so many broken hearts we don’t take notice of, and so many relationships going through troubled times. Each relationship is precious, and never easy. Our love lives and the love lives of others could always use a little extra prayer.

Defining the Line

boundaryWe like to have boundary lines. We like specific, clear definitions for the lines we shouldn’t cross.

And then we receive these definitions, and we don’t like them. They’re too restricting. There’s no freedom. So we try to find elbow room. We try to look and see what isn’t specified and work around it. We pick what we like, and redefine what we don’t.

Then our lives fall apart, and we don’t know what happened.

As Christians, we have declared that Christ is our Savior, and that His words are truth. This means we need to accept all His words as truth. Not just the ones we like, not just the ones that play to our benefit or support our pride… but all of His words. The ones that convict us. The ones that tell us to stay away from something we want to get closer to. The ones that clearly define our boundary lines, and what the sins are in our relationships.

It’s not about how we define lust. It’s about how God defines it.
It’s not about how we define fornication. It’s about how God defines it.
It’s not about how we define marriage. It’s about how God defines it.
It’s not about how we define adultery. It’s about how God defines it.
It’s not about how we define love. It’s about how God defines it.

In the end, our definitions of lust, fornication, and even love itself will not stand. It is God’s definitions– and God’s alone– that defines sin and sets the boundaries for our dating and martial lives. What the world accepts and practices does not change God’s mind on His boundary lines. When we live by our own definitions, we only end up with heart-breaking consequences, and end up missing out on the rich blessings God has for us.

So think about it: Do you readjust the lines? Do you create your own definitions for sin?

Verses to Think About
Psalm 119:160
The entirety of Your word is truth, and every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever.

1 John 2:15-17
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For 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. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Ephesians 5:6
Don’t be fooled by those who try to excuse these sins, for the anger of God will fall on all who disobey him.

10 Ways to Make Her Feel Beautiful

SONY DSC#1–Compliment her outfit. Her jewelry. Her style. Her hair.

#2– Give her a nickname that has to do with how great she looks.

#3– When a model/actress is on TV, say, “You’re much prettier than she is.”

#4– Don’t look at pornography.

#5– Make the caption of your pictures something like, “Me and my gorgeous wife.”

#6– Stare into her eyes for long periods of time.

#7– Hold her. Hug her often and without reason.

#8– Don’t check out other women in public. Stare lovingly at her instead.

#9– Introduce her as “My stunning wife/girlfriend.”

#10– Simply tell her she’s beautiful– she’ll never know you think she’s beautiful until you tell her, and she’ll think you’ve changed you mind if you don’t tell her often.

True Love Story: Designed

domandemisqEvery story has a design. The author carefully crafts each strand, then weaves the strings of the story together to create a solid, magnificent work.

The love story of Dominic Balli and his wife Emily is an example of such an authorship.

At sixteen, Dominic became a born again Christian at a youth camp. By this time he had suffered from a history of bad relationships and heartache from becoming too emotionally attached to the women he was dating.

“Each time I felt like I had a lost part of my heart. I said, ‘God just tell me who to marry and I’ll ask her to marry me.’”

A year later, Dominic was singing at his grandfather’s church when he met Emily. They spent the next two years singing together at the church, becoming good friends. And when Emily’s senior prom came around, she called Dominic.

“I don’t want to go with a guy that’s going to get freaky. I want to go with a guy that’s safe. Will you go to my prom with me?”

At this point, Dominic felt no romantic feelings towards her, so, as only a friend, he agreed to go. But when Emily met him at the door in her prom gown, his feelings began to change.

“We started to fall in love with each other that night,” Dominic says. “We just hung out and had a crazy fun time.”

But his past relationships made him cautious. When he interned at his grandfather’s church that summer, he communicated to Emily that he didn’t want to hang out anymore.

But the Author of the story had a different design.

A few extra interns were brought onto the team that summer, including none other than Emily herself. She and Dominic ended up spending many hours together working at the church, but neither one of them spoke of an attraction. Dominic wasn’t interested in a girlfriend, so he told God, “If this is my wife, tell me she’s my wife and I’ll marry her.”

And God answered. Every time Dominic opened his Bible it would turn to verses that related to the preciousness of a good wife (Proverbs 31:10), the way a husband should love his wife (Ephesians 5:25), or two becoming one (Genesis 2:24). A collection of these events made the circumstances hard to ignore.

“I went to her and asked, ‘So has God been telling you anything about anything?’ And she said, ‘Maybe. Has God been telling you anything about anything?’”

It took less than a day from the time the conversation broke open to the time Dominic and Emily decided to get married. The next day they announced their engagement and a year and half later they walked down the isle.

“When you get married, you realize what an idiot you are. All your little faults come out and now they’re not just affecting you, but the people close to you. But if you don’t deal with those things, it’s going to affect your closest relationship. You can’t make yourself a better person. God has to work through you. Daily surrender is important to that process.”

Dominic’s newest album “American Dream,” coming out July 26th, includes the song “Take My Love”, which tells the story he shares with Emily. Dominic wrote it while he and his wife were on vacation, in the backyard of a beach house.

“I was looking at the ocean and my beautiful wife, just remembering our story.”

As a musician, Dominic is aware of the mainstream viewpoint of “sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll” being what people chase to find fulfillment, but as a married Christian man he knows the pursuit of these endeavors always comes up short of satisfying.

“The reason people are going to come up feeling empty every time is because the most fulfillment they’re going to have in a loving relationship is with God. You don’t really know a true love relationship or true contentment until you’ve given everything to the Creator.”

Which is just how the Author designed it.