Tag Archives: Counseling

Marriage Conflict: Getting the to the Root of the Problem

marriage conflictMarriage Conflict Opportunities for Intimacy

“We are too quick to resent and feel what we suffer from others, but fail to consider how much others suffer from us. Whoever considers his own defects fully and honestly will find no reason to judge others harshly.” Thomas a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ.

Have you ever considered what caused you to fall in love, only to find yourself in more conflict than you could ever have imagined? I have known couples that have been married for 40+ years and the overwhelming majority of that time they have spent in conflict, either unable or unwilling to end the crazy cycle. Continue reading

How to Have a Godly Marriage

Godly MarriageWhat is a Godly Marriage?

Deuteronomy 7:6-9 gives us a picture of what a godly marriage looks like:

“For you are a people Holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession. The Lord did not set his affections on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the LORD loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers that he brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the land of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.”

There are several principles in the above scripture that describe from God’s perspective what is a godly marriage…

First, God chose us to be His treasured possession and set his affection on us. (Deuteronomy 7:6-7). In other words God chose to enter into an exclusive, personal and intimate relationship with His people.

A Godly Marriage is a Covenant

In the same way through the marriage covenant we choose our spouse to be our treasured possession. In a godly marriage we set all our affections on this one exclusive person. The traditional wedding vows adapted from the Book of Common Prayer express these biblical principles put forth in Deuteronomy 7:

Just like God redeemed the children of Israel from the power of the king of Egypt, He redeems us from the power of Satan so that we can be free to worship Him. In marriage (as well as in the Christian life) we are to foster an atmosphere of love and freedom, not setting ourselves in bondage to anyone or anything. We are to remain free to worship and serve Christ and to set all our affections on God and our spouse. Clearly, husbands and wives should love and repect each other and this agape love will foster an atmosphere of freedom not fear or bondage.

A Godly Marriage is a Faithful Marriage

Second, God makes it clear that He is God, there is no other god besides Him. In other words, there is no reason to go after other gods. God expects us to remain faithful to Him. God is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations. In fact scripture says that everything God does He does in faithfulness (Deut 32:4, Psalm 33:4)

When we marry, we enter into a covenant of faithfulness. Pledging to be faithful in marriage is but being the reflective glory of God. Married couples are a witness to heaven and earth that the God of Israel is a faithful God. (Eph 3:10, John 17:23). Complete faithfulness to our God and our spouse is characteristic of a god exalting marriage.

A Godly Marriage is Focused on Christ

Understanding God’s relationship with His people gives us insight into God’s words to Adam after He created Eve from Adam’s rib. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be united to his wife and they will become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24). Paul says in Ephesians 5:32 this is a profound mystery – but I am talking about Christ and the church. Referring back to verse 29 where he states that “After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church – for we are members of his body.”

Third, we see as believers that we have a great and grave responsibility. Marriage is a witness, a great testimony to heaven and earth that Jesus Christ loves His bride and cares for her. In a godly marriage our mindset is always to be focused on Christ and His love for His Bride.

Throughout the Old and New Covenants we see God referring to His relationship with His people as that of a husband or bridegroom; his people are referred to as His wife or Bride. Hosea says it best…

I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD. (Hosea 2:19-20)

A Godly marriage Reflects God’s Character

Finally, Hosea introduces several characteristics to us that describe how husbands and wives are to relate to one another in a godly marriage. Again, when husbands and wives faithfully express these characteristics they reflect God’s glory to a multitude of witnesses in heaven and in earth. God says succinctly the defining characteristics of His relationship with the church, the things his people can count on from Him are these…

  • Betrothal Forever (monogamy)(Matthew 19:6) So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has join together, let man not separate. When we come to Christ we are joined with Him for all eternity.

Husbands and wives are to be united in their faith, and their sense of purpose for their family and the expenditure of their resources (physical energy, emotional energy, time, material possessions, finances etc.)

In a godly marriage husbands and wives eliminate things in their lives that threaten their unity, purpose and faith.

  • Righteousness. The word Tsedeq quite often is translated “just”. It is also the word used for properly balanced weights and measures. Jesus referred to Tsedeq when he taught that as children of the Most High, we must be kind to the ungrateful and wicked just as the Most High is. Jesus explains it like this, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” How much more so does God expect us to extend the riches of His kindness to our spouse if He calls us to do this for the ungodly.
  • Justice (God’s Mishpat his law). It is often said that God’s word is a road map for our lives and indeed it is and so much more…it is to be our very life. God gave us the grace of His words and instruction originally in the Torah: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy and Numbers. In God’s word Peter says is everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3). Chances are Peter was thinking of the Torah when he wrote that. And remember the words Moses spoke over the people of Israel as he instructed them how to live the blessed life: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deut 6) How are husbands and wives to express God’s Justice, His Misphat, well His word tells us that as well…

In a godly marriage husbands and wives are to make it the highest priority of their lives to know and understand and live out God’s word and they are to manage all their resources in a way that expresses loving God with all their heart, soul and strength.

  • Loving-kindness (God’s Checed). God’s Checed was brought to fullness through Jesus Christ. This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.(1 John 3:16) In fact, while we were still sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8). Both husbands and wives are to demonstrate sacrificial love and compassion for one another. To live in love is to see God manifested in the world through the marriage relationship.

A godly marriage is a covenant between a man and woman that demonstrates faithfulness to God and one another, is focused on Christ and reflects God’s relationship with His bride the Church.

 

How to Meditate – God’s Way

How to MeditateThe Holy scriptures have much to say about how to meditate and what meditation is. In fact meditation has taken on a negative connotation for many people of faith. Sadly it has become a lost art – given over to the NewAge gurus and practitioners of Eastern mysticism. In this type of meditation the goal is often to “empty one’s self” in order to find intimacy with a god…this god is often equated with self or some other spiritual being. This is in direct opposition to what God’s word teaches on the nature of God, self and meditation – where God – whose name is Yahweh – is the center of all things and the focus of all such mental exercises.

Learning how to meditate is an art form that needs to be recovered by Christians and put into daily practice.

More than one Bible character engaged in the art form of meditation. The first place we notice a person meditating in the Bible is in Genesis 24:63. Isaac, the son of promise, had gone out into the field one evening to meditate. It’s easy to imagine Isaac’s need at this particular time in his life to meditate. His mother Sarah had passed away, his father Abraham was getting older and was well advanced in years, and he was awaiting the arrival of his bride to be.

Most likely Isaac, in the midst of these life circumstances, had a strong need to draw close to Yahweh, His God…He knew he was the child of promise…but what lies ahead? With his mother gone and his father well advanced in years, his life was changing dramatically. What did Elohim, his God, have in store for him? Who would his servant bring back for him to share his life with? How would Elohim fulfill the covenant He made with his father Abraham through him? There was so much to consider, so much to sort out, so much to seek God about.

Although the simple thing to do here would be to spell out the 1-2-3 steps of how to meditate, but then we might miss the point. You see we all meditate naturally. We meditate when we sit and think deeply, or lie on our beds and allow our thoughts to wander about the past, present or the future or the events of the day. But this is not necessarily productive meditation.

What is important in learning how to meditate is to elevate the unconscious or semiconscious to the conscious level. That is to become intentional about how you manage and exercise your mental energies. Meditation is a conscious exercise of focusing one’s cognitive energies on something specific and most importantly bringing the light of God’s word to bear on the thoughts. Meditation may simply be considering an aspect of God’s character as found in His word or contemplating meaningful scripture verses that you would like to grasp better. Meditation, the soaking in of the word, invites the Holy Spirit to impart the light of God’s truth into our heart. In this way meditation has a transformative nature.

It’s note worthy that Genesis 24:63 doesn’t say that Isaac went out to the field in the evening to worry, to grieve, to plan, or even to pray…though he may have done some of all of the above, we do not know. When Moses recorded this event in Isaac’s life he specifically used the Hebrew word suwach. It is only used this 1 time in the Old Testament. Though other forms of it do occur elsewhere.

In both the Old and New Testaments there are several different words that are translated as meditate or meditation. As we see in this story of Issac, meditation flows out of a need and a desire to draw close to God. A desire to commune with God in solitude. A need to create time and space in which he could contemplate, weigh and sort out his thoughts in light of God’s word and presence.

This brief interlude in Isaac’s life that as noted in Genesis gives us insight into several how to meditate principles we may weave into our own lives as we consider this lost art of Judeo-Christian meditation…

  • Solitude: Isaac, presumably after a day of work, as he was an accomplished man at the age of 40, seeks solitude in God’s creation – a field – a place a distance from his tent.
  • Peace: At the end of the day, when the chores and work are done and the sun is setting is a particularly peaceful time to meditate. The work is behind, the quiet of the evening dawns. Evening is a time of day when it may be easier to rest one’s mind and focus one’s thoughts.
  • Posture: Although the scriptures do not particularly say that Isaac was sitting, we can infer, as the word shuwach (a word derived from suwach) means to bow down, to incline to be humble that Isaac likely was in a position of humility – perhaps he was kneeling, sitting or lying prostrate as is consistent with middle eastern culture. Another hint we also get is that at one point he “lifted up his eyes” and saw that there were camels coming. It is good to place ones self in a humble posture when communing with the Living God. To kneel and rest the forehead on the ground or on stacked hands can also be helpful in quieting the thoughts – a must for meditation.
  • Life Change: Issac is in a place of transition in his life. His mother, with whom he was particularly close has passed away. He will soon be sharing his mother’s tent with his new wife, his father Abraham is elderly and will not be with him forever. Major life events require us to contemplate and ponder and pray.
  • Preparation: In this scenario, as Isaac finishes his meditation and prayer it coincides with God’s providentially bringing Rebekah into his life. One can draw an inference that through Isaac’s communion with God in the field, he was being prepared to receive his new wife and embark with her on their new life together. We see that they both receive each other with grace and dignity and Isaac was comforted by Rebekah after his mother’s death.

If the truth be told, I wish all would learn how to meditate on God’s word. It is a powerful and necessary means of knowing God more intimately.

 

Marriage Intimacy – Every Couple’s Desire

Marriage IntimacyResearch in the field of psychology has supported the Biblical truth that human beings were made, our brains literally wired for relationship. The wealth of this research is called Attachment Theory. Tim Clinton, President of the American Association of Christian Counselors and co-author of the book, Attachments, Why You Love, Feel and Act the Way You Do, had this to say about marriage intimacy and attachment theory at the 2006 AACC National Conference:

“Attachment theory is a theory on relationships. It is about how we do or do not do intimacy. It is a theory of emotion because we believe when we are threatened, face stress or duress, look towards our safe haven for security and find either I will be calmed and soothed or not.”

Understanding our attachment style, what it looks like cognitively, emotionally and behaviorally, as well as what triggers it and what to do about it will greatly aid a couple’s journey towards healing, intimacy and health in the marriage relationship. Tools and techniques may be very helpful, but it is a healthy connection between 2 people that we call attachment that makes all the difference in marriage.

The original state of Adam and Eve was complete marital intimacy and oneness. They lived and worked in the Garden of Eden, enjoying each other and sharing in the work. Eve had no difficulty submitting to Adam and respecting him and Adam loved Eve. It came naturally. They were naked and unashamed. Their being naked and unashamed says so much about the intimacy that Adam and Eve enjoyed. They loved and enjoyed each other. There was nothing that came between them: no conflict, blame or shame. They knew each other deeply and accepted each other completely.

This is the longing of every heart. This is the definition of intimacy in marriage – to be deeply known and loved by your spouse.

Read more about intimacy in marriage

 

Intimacy in Marriage

intimacyThe key to intimacy in marriage is understanding that….

One of your greatest accomplishments in marriage will be to understand that both your spouse and you are wounded and choose to consciously cooperate with the Holy Spirit to appropriate God’s grace, love, faithfulness, and mercy for mutual healing.

The scriptures make it clear that human beings were made for relationship. From the beginning of human history we read in Genesis that God declared that it is not good for the man to be alone. Therefore, He created Eve as a helpmate and companion for Adam. The relationship that Adam had with Eve, his wife, was not like any other relationship that Adam could have with God’s creatures. Even Adam’s relationship with God fell short compared to His relationship with Eve. One of the reasons people get married is that they do not want to be alone. Couples long to have deep connection and intimacy in marriage.

Was Adam really alone?

It’s interesting to consider that though God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone” Adam was not literally alone in the Garden: besides the animals, Adam had God. God walked in Adam’s domain (Gen. 3:8), God cared for Adam and instructed him in the way of abundant life (Gen. 2:16), God provided fulfilling activity for Adam by which to serve God as a vassal over the Garden. In other words God had a multifaceted relationship with Adam (Gen. 3:19).

So what did God mean that Adam was alone? Initially Adam did not have a means of satisfying his social and procreative nature. To fully satisfy his nature he needed another of his own kind as a faithful and monogamous companion. He did not have one who was like him and thus there was no one in Adam’s world whom he could know and enjoy procreative intimacy with as a kindred spirit. Adam was alone in his work and in his own kind. There was not another like him.

Adam was alone in that…

  • He was alone in his work of taking dominion over the earth and subduing it. Work, even the most pleasant kind that Adam was employed in, is all the more pleasurable when shared with others. Solomon said, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work. (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
  • Adam was alone in that he was unable to fulfill the work God gave him by himself. That was the work of being fruitful and multiplying. Therefore God created the Woman to be a helpmate and partner with Adam to accomplish the work God had prepared in advance for them. (Eph 2:10).
  • Adam was alone in that he had no one of like kind to exchange knowledge and affection with. Just as the Godhead is full of love, joy, unity, and faithfulness, as a creature made in the image of God, God would have Adam enjoy the blessing of intimate relationship such as He enjoys in the Godhead. Therefore He made the Woman, she was like Adam in nature but different in sex. Matthew Henry says, “If man is the head, she is the crown…the man was dust refined, but the women was dust double refined, one removed further from the earth.”

There was a close personal relationship which Adam was privileged to have with his Creator and still, Yahweh, the all sufficient One, declared that Adam was “alone”. Clearly Adam was not alone in the sense that he did not have anybody else, because he had the animals and he had God. But God Himself declares that it’s not enough for Adam to only have a relationship with Himself and the animals. God wanted Adam to enjoy intimacy in marriage.

Adam needed more to be satisfied. The apostle Paul takes the concept of knowing God to a deeply personal level: “My determined purpose is that I may know Him, that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him…” Philippians 3:10 (Amplified Version). To enjoy intimacy in marriage, we like Paul, must make it our determined purpose to know our spouse and become progressively more deeply and intimately acquainted with them.

Read more about marriage intimacy.