How to Turn Your Marriage Around
No matter where you are in your marriage relationship, with God’s grace you can turn your marriage around in 2017. I don’t know a couple who hasn’t experienced cycles of sin in their relationship. Remember, individually and corporately, the power of this verse:
But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we con- fess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:7-9 (NLT)
If there is any type of hidden sin in your lives, it will fight against your intimacy. You must turn the light on and cleanse your marriage from sinful patterns.
Early in our pastoral ministry, a young couple sought our counsel. The wife and husband had sought out a Christian counselor. When the husband expressed his desire to watch pornography, the “Christian” counselor encouraged them both to watch sex video together to stimulate physical intimacy. Opening the door to pornography as a couple brought a license to sin into their home. The wife, in particular, felt dirty and devalued by this pornography. They had invited the world into their bedroom, rather than the Holy One who is the Giver of great sex. When they turned away from pornography and were cleansed from their individual sin, their home life and marital oneness were established in purity.
Turn Your Marriage Around in 2017
You may not have brought pornography into your bedroom, but are there things that you have allowed to come into your life that fight against intimacy with your spouse? If so, turn the light on. If you confess your sin to God, not only will He forgive you, but He will cleanse you and put your marital intimacy on the right track.
If there is only one of you working on purity in your marriage, you will face barriers that only God can remove. If you are in this situation, ask God to show you your next steps.
Be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit to help you turn your marriage around. Are you supposed to spend more time together? Are you to surprise him or her with acts of service? Is there a gift you are supposed to buy to express your loyal love? Are you supposed to contact a Christian counselor to help you resolve your issues? (Remember to seek out good references and establish the integrity of his or her counsel.) Is there a marriage retreat that you should invest in? Is there a book that you are to read together? God is for you! Trust Him!
How to Build a Marriage That Lasts
Building a marriage that lasts requires love, intimacy, and integrity of heart every day! Celebrate the Day of Hearts with 9 Valentine’s Day Ideas!
Order your copy of Women Who Move Mountains Today! Click the picture to download chapter 1 and the introduction of Women Who Move Mountains.
The Father-God Love for the Prodigal
Are you a Prodigal?
I was looking up the definition of “prodigal” and was surprised by the definition:
prodigal implies reckless or wasteful lavishness threatening to lead to early exhaustion of resources.
luxuriant suggests a rich and splendid abundance.
lush suggests rich, soft luxuriance.
profuse implies pouring forth without restraint.
lavish suggests an unstinted or unmeasured profusion.
As I looked at this definition, I thought of our American lifestyle. Have you or your children followed this pattern:
- Our children are encouraged to go to Ivy-league schools and to not worry about the debt accrued with student loans.
- After they go to college, and meet the perfect somebody, they go into further debt from the lavish wedding.
- Then of course, there is further spending as they purchase their first house.
- Then they purchase the first a mini-van
- Then extravagant equipment for their babies.
The Prodigal Cycle
The out-of-control spending, the reckless and wastefulness of resources has become confused with the American dream. Remember, how our forefathers and mothers sacrificed when they came to a land of freedom. They hoped for a better life, but their definition of a good life is much different than what the entitlement generation feels they deserve.
If you were around in the 80’s when Imelda Marcos, the widow of a Filipino dictator, was found with a legendary 3,000 pairs of shoes. The media was appalled by the extravagance when so many of her people were in great need. Yet, Americans love to shop till they drop and build mansions where only a few people live in them.
The Entitlement Culture
Let me tell you a story of a land which is becoming a culture of waste. The amount of resources that an individual home waste’s every year could feed and cloth all the pilgrims who died trying to settle this country. They gave their lives for religious freedom and we waste what has been given us.
Let me tell you a story from the Bible.
There was once a man who had two sons. The younger said to his father, ‘Father, I want right now what’s coming to me.’
So the father divided the property between them. It wasn’t long before the younger son packed his bags and left for a distant country. There, undisciplined and dissipated, he wasted everything he had. After he had gone through all his money, there was a bad famine all through that country and he began to hurt. He signed on with a citizen there who assigned him to his fields to slop the pigs. He was so hungry he would have eaten the corncobs in the pig slop, but no one would give him any.
That brought him to his senses. He said, ‘All those farmhands working for my father sit down to three meals a day, and here I am starving to death. I’m going back to my father. I’ll say to him, Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son. Take me on as a hired hand.’ He got right up and went home to his father. (Lk 15:11-20).
I have never seen myself as a prodigal…
I fell in love with Jesus early in my life. I didn’t do drugs. I was a virgin when I married. I thought that all the prodigals were people who were “loose” or had sex outside of marriage or had corrupt morals. Yet, when I read this definition:
I realize that as an American citizen I am included in these statics:
1. Junk galore. Each American throws out about 4.4 pounds (2 kilograms) of trash every single day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s latest 2012 figures.
2. Food Wasted. According to America’s Second Harvest, over 41 billion pounds of food have been wasted this year (www.secondharvest.org).
I know that I fall into the above categories of waste. But as Americans, we also have these statistics.
3. Drug Use. America has the highest rate of illegal drug use on the entire planet.
4. Teenage Pregnancy. America has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the world by a very wide margin.
5. Credit Card Waste: According to a Gallup survey, the average cardholder carries a credit card balance of $2,210 at the end of the month. Statistics on creditcard.com show that the average APR on cards with a balance is 12.78%. Considering that 176 million Americans have a credit card, the wasted amount on credit card interest is over $49 billion each year.
Hope for the Prodigal…
I could get really discouraged by these statistics, but the good news is that the story of the Prodigal Son is not as much about the son who was reckless and wasteful, but about the Father who loves… Look at the how the Father loves every prodigal.
When he was still a long way off, his father saw him. His heart pounding, he ran out, embraced him, and kissed him. The son started his speech: ‘Father, I’ve sinned against God, I’ve sinned before you; I don’t deserve to be called your son ever again.’
“But the father wasn’t listening. He was calling to the servants, ‘Quick. Bring a clean set of clothes and dress him. Put the family ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then get a grain-fed heifer and roast it. We’re going to feast! We’re going to have a wonderful time! My son is here—given up for dead and now alive! Given up for lost and now found!’ And they began to have a wonderful time.
“All this time his older son was out in the field. When the day’s work was done he came in. As he approached the house, he heard the music and dancing. Calling over one of the houseboys, he asked what was going on. He told him, ‘Your brother came home. Your father has ordered a feast—barbecued beef!—because he has him home safe and sound.’ (Lk 15:20-24)
A Father’s Love for His Prodigal Children
Wow! We spend so much time thinking about “the prodigal”, but really this story is about the Father! As we turn around from our own reckless living we can be sure of this! Our repentance opens the door for intimacy with Father-God to be restored. When we change our thinking and embrace a lifestyle of repentance, we draw near to God and He draws near to us. The truth of God’s never-ending story is told again and again as the father welcomes us home to Himself. Remember this:
1. God Loves Us
2. God Receives Us
3. God Restores Us
4. God Authorizes us
God Rejoices Over Us
// ]]> The Father is waiting for you and for me to come home!
Consider taking a spiritual retreat where you spend time with God, coming closer to Him. Click here to download your free guide. Click Here to Download
Hope to hear from you. If you want prayer for your own prodigal heart to come home, or prayer for a loved one, leave a comment and we will join you! A Father’s love never fails to welcome home His child.
Order your copy of Women Who Move Mountains Today! Click the picture to download chapter 1 and the introduction of Women Who Move Mountains.
How to Stop the Crazy Cycle
Let’s face it, relationships are not easy. 80% of the time your marriage may feel like it is smooth sailing, but 20% of the time you may hit a storm. If year after year in a marriage, you hit the same storm it can be disheartening. You want to learn how to stop the crazy cycle in time for Christmas!
The Need for Love and Respect
. In times of conflict, men and women may speak a different language. Dr. Emerson Eggerich talks about the “Pink and Blue Difference” in this video:
Stop the Crazy Cycle in time for Christmas!
If you have been feeling that crazy stress that comes from the crazy cycle, there is good news – you can get off of the cycle in time for the Holidays! In fact, you can choose today to offer love and respect to your spouse not based on whether or not they deserve it, but based on the goodness of what Jesus has done for you.
The person who get’s off the merry-go-round of blame first is the spouse with the most maturity. You can see that you aren’t getting anywhere on the crazy cycle. So take some simple advice, and show your husband some respect and your wife some love. I know, it seems overly-simplified… but try it. For some couples that we have walked through in this process, this foundation of love and respect was a game-changer for their marriage.
9 Traits of a Life-Giving Marriage
We are receiving some amazing testimonies of how God has used 9 Traits of a Life-Giving Marriage to help build a relationship that lasts. Here are a few comments from readers.
“I wish I would have read this during our first year of marriage, when everything was new and a little confusing. I had many “okay I’m normal!” moments while reading and thinking in retrospect. I especially liked how Sue really took the time to encourage the reader to evaluate his/her relationship with Christ. We get so caught up in a title rather than a lifestyle. I think this has been an excellent reading endeavor, and I will recommend it to all my married and soon to be married friends.” Maddie
“I appreciated the vulnerability shown throughout the pages, along with Sue’s willingness to share personal stories from her own marriage- the good and the bad. We can learn from each other, and this book had the tone of a wise, older sister, sharing her wisdom out of love, with a desire to see marriages succeed.” Dawn Klinge
“Truly a delightful, uplifting read with a spirit-driven plan to sustain both partners in a life-long marriage!” Angela
“This book is both encouraging and real, and would make a great gift too! Practical and biblical advice whether married, or preparing for marriage.” Dorris Swift
Get Ready for Christmas
This morning before worship, we took our daughter to breakfast. As I looked up from my omelet, who would be walking in the door of Snug on the Square in Mckinney Texas, but Santa Clause himself. Sadly, Santa was walking in a little bit lost. He asked for directions.
Have you ever felt a little lost when it came to the holidays. You may have felt a growing anxiety as your Christmas things to do just kept growing. You had your notes on what you needed to do to create the perfect holiday:
1. Buy perfect holiday gifts (go into debt if you need to).
2. Take flawless family pictures (bribe the kids if you need to).
3. Take ridiculously expensive trips (remember you are impressing your Facebook friends).
The problems with this materialistic approach to Christmas, is that you can have a beautifully decorated home but not have Christmas in your heart.
10 Things You Can Do Now to Get Ready for Christmas
So this year, begin the holiday season by going deeper. Unlike tinsel on a Christmas tree that always falls off, get’s trampled underfoot and thrown away — make your Christmas season centered around Christ.
1. Take time to look back at your year.
If you have been journalling through your year, go back and look at the key things that God has said to you. Ask these questions:
- How has God answered your prayers?
- How has God provided for you?
- What relationships have enriched your life?
- What losses have you suffered?
- What victories have you gained?
2. Forgive Everyone who Hurt you this year.
Undoubtedly there have been people and situations that have hurt you this year. You are human. There is no shame in this, you simply need to release those who have hurt you and truly forgive. This is more than just voicing some words, “I’m sorry” Forgiveness is about cleansing your heart of residual pain and loss.
3. Thank Everyone who has helped you this year.
One of the best ways to be free from bitterness is to go a step farther beyond forgiveness and enter the pathway of hope. Take time to thank every single person who has helped you this year. Sit down and make a list. Write thank you cards, or include your thank in your Christmas Cards.
4. Take Time Praying for Your Family
You may pray regularly for your family, yet Christmas is a great time to set aside time to pray for the particular needs of each one of those you love. Pray for the family relationships. Pray for a sensitivity to the Holy Spirit to lead you and guide you to build family traditions. If you are in a season of transition, let go of the past to make room for the new ways that you will relate as a family. It’s a big transition to go from having babies to toddlers, or from young children to teenagers, or from teenagers to adults.
5. Take time to Worship Jesus
The best way to overcome the commercialization of the holidays, is to affirm again that the centrality of Jesus to Christmas.
If you are rushing around keeping up with how the Jones’ do Christmas, you will miss out on the sweet simplicity of the season.
This passionate rendition of Mary, Did you Know by Pentatonix is a moving call to worship. This song will get you in the Christmas Spirit.
Top Ten Things to Pray for your Family
As you prepare your heart and mind to be with extended family during the holiday season, here is a simple prayer card to put in your Bible or to post to remind you to pray for your family.
Get your copy here
How to Be Salt and Light
A good woman is taking a stand to be salt and light during this year’s election where the majority of Christians may have given up on being a voice for God in the voting booth. Liz Lemery Joy’s first book How to Be Salt and Light: The Christian’s Guide to Vote beacons evangelical Christians to take a stand for God when they vote.
Statistics show that few Christians fully embrace their god-given right to vote. Here are the statistics:
Only about 50 percent of Christians in America are registered to vote.
Of those, only 50 percent show up at the polls, meaning 75 percent of all Christians are not taking advantage of one of their greatest privileges.
If every Christian would register to vote and then do so, candidates who share their beliefs and values would win the presidency in a landslide.*
75 % o Christians are not standing up for their beliefs and taking action in the voting booth. Often the stumbling ground is
the personalities in the presidential race. Liz Lemery Joy says,”Too often people get sidetracked by the personalities who are campaigning. Your vote does not have to do with whether or not you like a candidate. Concentrate on casting your vote as an ambassador of Jesus Christ. Be heaven’s voice in the voting booth.”
How to Be Salt and Light: The Christian’s Guide to Voting
After a completing a Daniel Fast, God spoke to Liz Lemery Joy’s heart about writing a book that would help people to “vote the bible.” As she took a stand to obey God, doors began to open on radio, television and social platforms. She is motivating Christian voters to vote biblical on the issues of the election.
About Liz Lemery Joy:
Liz is a mother of four, author, speaker and blogger in New York State. She started a ‘Vote the Bible’ initiative corresponding with over 500 churches in her State in order to help Pastors, Ministers and Clergy become active in the political process through biblical voting. She has been on numerous radio shows, Trinity Broadcasting Network in NYC, and worked closely with a New York Senator to host several prayer events and promote active Christian voting.
How to Be Salt and Light: The Christian’s Guide to Voting is being published by Life Bridge Press, A division of Detweiler LLC. If you would like to interview Liz, contact her directly at email@example.com or LizLemeryJoy.com.
- Accessed on September 25, 2016 at “Your Vote Matters” at http://www.providenceforum.org/yourvotematters.
Every Mom is Chosen
Every mom that I know wants to be the best mom in the world for her child, but sometimes she feels like the worst. Every mom needs a safe place to talk about the real issues she is facing without feeling like she will be judged as a “bad mom.” We need others to come alongside us and cheer us on as moms even when we feel like our parenting skills are lacking and we aren’t going to make it through another Cheerio-filled day.
I want to introduce a new author Jen Forsthoff who has just written Chosen for Charlie: When God Gifts You with a Special Needs Child which is being published by Life Bridge Press just in time for Mother’s Day. It’s a very vulnerable thing to publish your first book and I want to invite you to read Jen’s post and leave her comments of encouragement as she inspires you with her message.
Chosen for Charlie
by Jen Forsthoff
It was love at first sight. After thirty-eight weeks, I finally held my firstborn. My beautiful Charlotte Joy. “Charlie,” as we would call her, lay on my chest and wriggled under the bright hospital room light. Not knowing how to comfort her, I held her the best I could. Her sweet cry was music to my ears; to finally hear her voice and see her face was more than I could bear. Though nurses buzzed about the room, cleaning and prepping for Charlie’s first bath and such things, for those initial moments, the world seemed to shrink to just the three of us.
My husband and I stared at her blinking blue eyes, the tuft of strawberry blonde hair atop her head, her tiny shriveled hands, her precious little body. “We’ve been waiting for you,” I cried. I couldn’t look away from her precious face. “Momma loves you so much.”
As new parents, we knew we had much to learn. But with soring hopes of a bright future, we felt sure that, together, we could conquer whatever might come our way.
Just a few days later we received the phone call that confirmed the doctors’ suspicions: Charlie had Trisomy 21. This genetic abnormality, commonly referred to as Down Syndrome, was something we never imagined for our family. We knew, of course, that parenting would be a challenge. But parenting a special-needs child, who could ever be prepared for that?
That once conquering spirit that welled up inside those first few moments quickly turned. I was soon felt as though I was being conquered- with fears, sadness, unanswered prayers for my baby girl. I was devastated. I ached all over. This feeling of pain and heaviness was never one I imagined with the birth of a child. This is not how a new mother should feel- while friends celebrated the birth of their healthy babies, I was heart-broken. Feeling conflicted within; brokenness was replaced with guilt that I couldn’t celebrate the birth of my baby girl.
Perhaps you have found yourself in a similar situation- receiving difficult news about your child, a family member, a dear friend, or even yourself. Our reactions in those moments can vary, tremendously. We can feel anger, bitterness, deep sadness, pain, even nothing at all. I don’t think there is any right or wrong way to feel in those moments. But I think that what we do in those moments is absolutely defining of what will come next.
Our pain can cause us to push away or pull in close. One yields even more hurt, while the other brings healing. Rather than pushing away, I want to pull in towards my Heavenly Father. And If I do, I will be given beauty for my ashes, joy for my mourning, a spirit of praise for my heaviness- I will be transformed and renewed in His presence (Isaiah 61: 3). As I pull in close, that which seems to be conquering me, will not overcome me. God won’t let it.
If you are like me, your first response is not always to pull in close to God. But I can tell you that amidst my grief, God graciously pulled me close. He took my ashes, my mourning, and my heaviness in exchange for a beautiful perspective on life, an unexplainable joy, and a heart that is full of praise and thanksgiving.
So let me encourage you today, pull in close to God. Give him your heart, your hurt, your heaviness and exchange them for healing from your Heavenly Father.
Click the picture below to download chapter 1 of Chosen for Charlie by Jen Forsthoff.