RECREATE YOUR MARRIAGE

“There is such restoration in creation to relieve stress” Susan Winter

Many marriages would benefit if spouses put the above sentence into practice!

God created man and woman to come together in holy matrimony to reflect His glory and love through the marriage covenant.

“God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)

IN THE BEGINNING

When we first get married we are in love, we want to honor each other and as believers we want our marriage to reflect God’s glory so we are willing, in the beginning stages of our marriage, to gloss over the not so nice character traits in our spouse or the fact that they do not react as we expect them too. We tend to make excuses for our ‘better’ half and often blame ourselves if things aren’t going as smoothly as expected.

The reality is this: each one of us brings our past and our expectations into the marriage. Whether we like it or not, we are programmed to a large degree because of our past, to react in certain ways.

A husband may have grown up with a mom who stayed at home and did all the household work and cooking and just assumes that is what his wife is going to continue to do. Or his mom may have worked and he expects the same from his wife. The wife may have grown up with brothers or a father who helped in the house and shared the cooking and, therefore, her expectation may be that her husband will likewise share these duties equally. Or her mom may have stayed at home and raised the children and this is what she anticipates will be what she will do once the children are born.

There are so many ‘truths’ as we know them stored in our subconscious minds that are very different from the ‘truths’ that are stored in our spouse’s subconscious mind.

The traditions and assumptions around birthdays, Christmas, Easter… any number of things may also be entirely different, and if these expectations have not been expressed, our reactions to not having our assumptions met could cause many misunderstandings.

AS TIME GOES ON

After a few years go by, we may notice that resentment begins to creep in. Unmet expectations begin to fester and boredom of routine may set in. Disillusionment and hurt have ensured that you and your spouse have grown further and further apart and both of you are so stressed that you are beginning to think that you have made a huge mistake and this is not the person you want to spend the rest of your life with after all.

Hence this thought being so meaningful for a marriage: “There is such restoration in creation to relieve stress.” (Susan Winter)

BRINGING IT BACK HOME

Restoration is the act of restoring or bringing something back to its former position or condition. We need to actively work at restoring our marriages, to bring back the love we had for each other.

Creation is the act or process of bringing something into existence. We need to bring our love for our spouse into existence once again.  As Martin Luther King Jr. put it:

“There’s something about love that builds up and is creative.”

Relieve has two meanings and both are appropriate in restoring our marriages.

The first one is to relieve or cause pain and distress to become less serious and severe. The second meaning is to take the place of or stand-in for someone. We need to actively think about how we can help relieve our partner of the pain that has been caused in the marriage and we need to ‘stand’ in the place of our spouse and try and imagine what they feel and think about the marriage.

Stress is pressure or tension exerted on something or someone. It is accompanied by feelings of worry, anxiety, and strain.

What stress are we causing our partner with our past and present behavior?

We need to find creative ways to relieve that stress on our marriage.

We need to “Be kind to each other, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32).

We need to learn to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21)

“So far as you continue to entertain what makes you unhappy, you shall always dance to the tune of what will make you unhappy. A mind-set change can cause a great change.” ―Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

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A SUPERNATURAL MARRIAGE

“God is an awesome, amazing, miracle working God and we are a Supernatural people.” —Brian O’Donnell

The word Supernatural is defined as: “a manifestation or event attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature… unnaturally or extraordinarily great”

Marriage, purely by definition, is beyond scientific understanding, unnatural and extraordinary, therefore, marriage is definitely supernatural!

You take a man and a woman (bearing in mind the saying men are from Mars and women are from Venus), from different backgrounds, family dynamics, sometimes different cultures, with different habits, traditions, expectations and you put them in the same building—they are expected to sleep together, eat together, live together, have children together and live together forever AND they are meant to do this lovingly, willingly and kindly.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.”—Ephesians 4:2-3

It takes a huge amount of supernatural ability to express those characteristics in the bounds of a marriage!

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.”—1 Corinthians 13:4-5

I don’t know about you but I need (and my husband needs) a supernatural, miraculous power working in our lives to be patient, kind, not self-seeking, not easily angered and this pertains especially to me—not to keep a record of wrongs in our marriage.

This is my husband and my 27th year of marriage.

Yesterday morning we had a huge fight—shouting, slamming of doors, sarcasm, anger, the works!

He left the house and was halfway down the road when he realized that he had forgotten something in his haste to leave so had to come back home. I met him in the kitchen and we both burst out laughing.

The fight came out of nowhere, was about something trivial and unimportant, but because we are going through a stressful and challenging time in our lives and work at the moment, we took our frustrations out on each other.

It was a good reminder to start guarding our hearts against anxiety and fear and not to take our stresses out on each other.

In other words, to care for each other with God’s supernatural love. In order to do this, we need to search God’s Word and learn from Him and ask Him to equip us with His supernatural love for our spouses.

“It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” —Matthew 4:4

We need to live by God’s word if we want to possess the land God has promised us…the land of good health, happy and fulfilled marriages, Godly children, good businesses, miracles…

We can, with God’s help, change our damaged, mediocre, hurting marriages if we would but only recognize how great we are because we are made supernatural through Jesus Christ.

“We are Supernatural, powerful people who, if we choose too, could live everyday by the Spirit of God in a miraculous way.” –Brian O’Donnell

Our marriages need to be supernatural.

Originally written for and published on https://www.startmarriageright.com/2019/06/a-supernatural-marriage/

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SUPERNATURAL CHRISTIANS

“If you are not a Supernatural Christian, you are not a Christian”

These words were spoken yesterday by a man of God who I have admired for many years, Brian O’Donnell.
He also said:

“God is an awesome, amazing, miracle working God and we are a Supernatural people”

The word Supernatural is defined as:
“a manifestation or event attributed to some force beyond scientific understanding or the laws of nature…
Unnaturally or extraordinarily great”

I am a Christian so I love the fact that my existence is beyond scientific understanding and that I am unnaturally and extraordinarily great because I am a child of the most High God.
A God of miracles.

Brian spoke on Deuteronomy 8.
“Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the LORD promised on oath to your ancestors…
He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years.”

God led the Israelites through the desert for forty years, and yet, their clothes did not wear out, their feet did not swell, manna was provided fresh every day apart from when they got tired of eating manna and complained… “I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning, you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’” That evening quail came and covered the camp…” (Exodus 16:12,13)

What amazing miracles and yet the Israelites, just like us today, got bored with these miracles, stopped noticing them and started complaining.
Brian noted that “the devil tricks us back into normalcy”, we get bored and tired with our everyday amazing lives, our bodies that are so miraculously made, our jobs, our families…and then we start to complain and lose interest in God’s miraculous world.
When we stop looking at and spending time with God we start to move away from God.

Many years after the Israelites entered into the Promised Land, after fasting for forty days and forty nights, the first words Jesus spoke when Satan tempted Him to turn stones into bread were “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Matthew 4:4)

We need to live by God’s word if we want to possess the land God has promised us…the land of good health, happy and fulfilled marriages, Godly children, good businesses, miracles…

God can take us out of our lifestyle of mediocrity if we would but only recognize how great we are because we are made supernatural through Jesus Christ.

“We are Supernatural, powerful people who, if we choose too, could live everyday by the Spirit of God in a miraculous way.” – Brian O’Donnell

Based on a talk given by Brian O’Donnell at ROTOP, 22/05/2019.  ROTOP – Round Tables Of Prayer, https://web.facebook.com/groups/211216175676927/

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WHAT GIFTS ARE YOU BRINGING TO YOUR MARRIAGE?

If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is to be present in the present. Gratefully. —Maya Angelou

On the 31st of December every year my husband and I go on a date. We find somewhere quiet, away from the house, and we reflect on the year past, discuss the year to come and we pray.

This is not so much time for making practical plans, it is more a time to be still, to meditate on God’s word and to invite Him to please continue being a part of our marriage on a daily basis in the year to come.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

We are very aware that unless we have God’s input and His blessing on our plans, we are not going to have a good year.  The bedrock of our marriage is God and if He is not acknowledged in our plans our marriage is going to suffer.

We know that left to our own devices we will definitely make a mess of things.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight. —Proverbs 3:5,6

During our 26 years of marriage, we have walked so many crooked paths in our relationship we long for only straight paths!

On the last day of 2018, we went to a retreat center near where we live. There is a tiny little chapel on the grounds and we spent some time together there in silent prayer.

On the door of the chapel was a notice that stated:

Every time you come here you have the opportunity to receive three free gifts – special graces:

  1. The grace of being spiritually at home – of belonging
  2. The grace of inner transformation and change
  3. The grace of a mission – of a purpose and meaning in life

The above gifts apply to marriage as well. We need to be spiritually at home in our marriage, to fully belong to our spouse.

We need to allow ourselves and our spouse the opportunity of inner transformation and change within the marriage.

We need to continually bring a purpose and meaning to our marriages.

I added a fourth gift to give to my marriage this year:

The gift of ‘being present’ — Of making my spouse my priority, of being aware of how he is doing, of consciously respecting him and making him feel valued.

As we give these gifts to our marriages, we also give them to ourselves and to God.

In Jeremiah 29:11-14, God says “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity…”

It is wise to regularly call out to God, to pray to Him and to find out from Him what His plans are for your marriage. As you seek Him together as a couple, He will guide you and if you allow Him too He will lead you out of captivity – captivity to anger, resentment, misunderstandings and hurt that may have become a part of your marriage.

Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future.  It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breath is a gift. —Oprah Winfrey

 So I pray that in all our marriages we will consciously let go of the past and treat every moment we have with our spouse as a gift to be treasured.

Originally written for and published on https://www.startmarriageright.com/2019/04/what-gifts-are-you-bringing-to-your-marriage/

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A WORK IN PROGRESS

Every person on this earth starts their lives as a blessing! In the Bible, we read that “children are a gift from the Lord – they are a blessing” (Psalm 127). Therefore, no matter what anyone tells you to the contrary or how you may feel, you are a blessing.

We are children of an Almighty God, and we need to start believing that and acting accordingly. God says in His word that “where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). We need to ask God to share His vision for our lives with us and to find out what His original plan was for our lives before the world got in the way and some of us fell so far short of what God had planned for us.

Before any of us are born God had already spoken a prophetic word over our lives.  He says in Jeremiah 29:11, “I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” We serve a God who has so much compassion for us. He sent His Son to die on the Cross in our place.  Jesus suffered horrific humiliation, He was mocked and bullied, and His friends turned their backs on Him when He needed them most. God knows exactly how sinful we are, how petty and nasty we can be, and yet, He still chose to send His son to die on that Cross.  It is through the death and resurrection of Jesus that we can enter into a relationship with God.  He says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Due to a very fractured childhood – divorce, re-marriage of both my parents, more divorces and re-marriages on my mom’s side and constant moving around as a child and teenager, I didn’t develop into the adult that God had created me to be. I had no sense of self-worth; I struggled with feelings of total inadequacy and had built so many barriers around myself for fear of being hurt I am utterly amazed that my husband even took the time to get to know me never mind marry me! We had been married for 21 years when I asked him what he had seen in me that made him want to marry me.  His answer shocked me.  He said he had seen a wholeness in me.  I was a broken person, and yet, God gave him this image, this vision of wholeness, and through the years because of his love and the fact that he has always treated me as a whole person, I have been able to grow into wholeness.  I am still a work in progress! We are all works in progress.

From the time we are born, God sees us as whole people.  If we have accepted Jesus Christ into our lives, if we are committed to living for Him, God looks at us through the image of Jesus Christ.  “God created man in His own image, in the image of God” (Genesis 1:27).

It doesn’t matter what family we are born into or how we are being raised – if we have committed our lives to Jesus Christ, He treats us as whole human beings, full of potential.  We need to ask God what His vision is for our lives, and then, through His love, we need to start living that vision.

Originally written for and published onhttps://christianchildrensempowerment.com/…/a-work-in-prog…/

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OPEN DOORS…

“God asks, “Now, who is willing to consecrate them-self today to the Lord?”
(1 Chronicles 29:5)

If we are serious about serving God we need to spend some time thinking about what our answers will be to the questions God asks us:  “Whom shall I send?”  “Who will go for us?”  “Who is willing to consecrate himself to the Lord”.

If we are willing to volunteer we need to realize that God will shut certain doors and will open new doors for us to walk through.
A friend once said to me:

“I know God is opening doors for me.  I just need to find a new way of walking through them”.  

That resonated with me. I like the idea of finding new ways of walking through the doors God is opening – a new attitude, a new faith, a new hope and a new trust in our Lord Jesus.

Lord, we ask that we will see your hand visibly at work in our lives. That as we seek you with all our hearts we will be aware of the doors you are opening and the doors you are closing and that you will grant us grace to face both the shut doors and the open doors.  Amen

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A NIGGLING CONSCIENCE…

A few years ago, my husband, Steve, took one of the chairs from the church hall to see whether there was a way he could fix the welding that was coming loose on the chair.
The chair went from his vehicle to outside the kitchen door at his work premises…and there it stayed. It was handy to put things on or to sit on whilst one was having lunch.
Quite a few years passed and every time Steve walked past this chair his conscience would niggle. By now the chair was well used and worn and the niggling was starting to get worse.

Psalm 33:4 states “For the word of the Lord is right and true; He is faithful in all He does”.
Steve’s conscious really began to bother him as he realized he had not been faithful in seeing whether the chair could be fixed and then returning it to church.

Last week whilst driving to a customer he passed a little antique shop displaying various items of furniture outside it’s door and one of the items was the exact same chair. Steve parked and went inside. He did a double take when the owner told him what the chair was selling for.
R300 – we live in South Africa and that is a lot of money.

The conversation that followed went something like this:

Steve: “That’s a lot of money for a little chair!”
Owner: “I know, but just look at the workmanship, look at how old it is”
Steve: “I don’t care how old it is, that’s still a lot of money. I better take it though”.
Owner: “If you don’t mind me asking, why do you want this particular chair and why are you prepared to pay so much money for it”.

Steve explained the story about having taken the chair from church and never returning it and the fact that it was now too shoddy looking to return so he needed to replace it.

Steve: “God says in His word that in all our ways we need to be honest and to fulfill the commitments we make and my conscience is really getting the better of me now so I need to sort this matter out”.
Owner: “Are you a church goer?”
Steve: “Yes and a follower of Jesus Christ”.
Owner: “Well, I am also a Christian and your story has been an amazing witness to me. I tell you what, you can have it for R200”.

Maybe the owner’s conscience was also beginning to niggle about the prices he was charging being a bit high.

Steve loves the Lord, he wants God to be honoured through the way he lives his life. He is finding that the more he acknowledges God in his daily dealings with people the more God is revealing to him the truth in the following verse:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” Proverbs 3:5,6

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