secrets to success(FULL marriage)

I know the secret to a successful Christian marriage! “How do I know this?” you may ask. Well, I know because I’ve been married for 3 years. Yes – a whopping 3 years! That alone pretty much makes me an expert.

But seriously, all jokes aside, I believe the secret here is actually no secret at all. The strategy to succeed in marriage has been utilized for years and years by followers of Christ who dare to commit to the marital standards spelled out in Scripture. It is simply a matter of learning and applying.

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I feel enriched when I attend an Excellent Wives Bible Study event hosted by Marriage Ministry Together, Inc., or get to sit in on a Love & Respect session, or even attend a Weekend to Remember® conference hosted by Focus on the Family. Sitting back and taking notes at these events, I learn and relearn winning tactics from people who’ve invested years of their lives in marriage. These folks put valuable time-honored information – often very personally – out in the open for all who are interested in gleaning from it.

Oftentimes, what I hear is not new to me. However, I’ve concluded that these reinforcements are not only valuable, but very necessary. Principles such as wives respecting their husbands and husbands loving their wives (Eph. 5:22-33); and accepting your spouse for who they are (Rom. 15:7), realizing that you are two different imperfect people. Gathering this knowledge from multiple reputable sources is definitely reassuring.

My husband often tells me not to reinvent the wheel – a concept that ringmarriage3s true particularly for maintaining a successful marriage under the guidance of Scripture. However, it is not enough to know this stuff. No, the key is to actually apply what you know to be good for your marriage. And that’s one of the many reasons it’s so important for me to be reminded of these principles on a daily basis. After 3 years (and counting), I can say that applying these biblical principles to my marriage has helped grow our relationship by leaps and bounds. We don’t have a perfect marriage, but we do have Christ and it will be perfected through Him.

marriage2John and I have been blessed to have marital support available to us from the Browns and many others. We also intentionally take time to participate in events that will build us up as a couple. And finally, sometimes after some tugging, we make a strong effort to apply what we are learning. And you know what? We actually witness positive change and growth in our marriage!

Now, if I can only get this SEX thing down…. 🙂 but that’s a different article.

do you know?

As part of my quest to grow as a spiritually mature Christian, I am currently reading a book titled Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. Although I will not focus on that specific concept in this blog, the introduction of a chapter titled “Going Back in Order to go Forward[i] ties into a thought I have been meditating on lately. The chapter begins, “Emotionally healthy spirituality is about reality, not denial or illusion. It is about embracing God’s choice to birth us into a particular family, in a particular place, at a particular moment in history.”

This passage only reinforces my gratitude to God for birthing me into a family of believers. I am so thankful that from very early on in my life I have known about Jesus. That name was never foreign to me. I wasn’t introduced to Him by a friend at school, or by a distant relative, or by some history teacher; and I didn’t have to search far to find out about Him. My family consisted of weekly church-goers, and because of this upbringing I knjohn 17.3ew who Jesus was. And I am thankful.

However, as I got older, my knowledge of Christ would not suffice. I found this out when my father passed while I was in the 11th grade. It wasn’t enough for me to know of Christ, I had to know Christ—and there is a difference. Knowing Christ is established by gaining and developing a personal relationship with Him (John 17:3, 20-26). Just knowing about Him will not carry you through personal struggles and storms. Knowing about the God of my mother did not help when my mother passed. Knowing of the God of my grandmother did not relieve the lonely distress of my two-month stint in the hospital. Only through a personal relationship with Christ can I say that I made it through losing my only brother at the age of 35. Knowing of Christ would not have sustained me when life hit me and crushed me so deeply that I saw no hope for my future.

I am fortunate. I did not have to search high and low for my Savior. He has been an integral part of my life for as long as I can remember. I did not have to wander in the wilderness, jumping from one belief system to another, before I eventually came into the knowledge of Christ. I am eternally thankful for that. However I learned at a very early age that knowing about Jesus Christ—the God of my mother, father, sister, whomever—was not enough to sustain me through life. I learned that I needed to know God for myself. Developing a personal relationship with Him for myself was the only way I could be here today, sane and in my right mind.

Wouldn’t you like to know Him also?

knowing Jesus

[i] Scazzero, Peter. “Going Back in Order to Go Forward.” Emotionally Healthy Spirituality: Unleash a Revolution in Your Life in Christ. Nashville, TN: Integrity, 2006. 86. Print.

Finding Your Altar

So what does it really mean to have an altar?

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Lest you find me vague, let me give you a back story. After enduring a tumultuous and stressful couple of weeks, I laid in bed one day talking to God. I began by giving Him every excuse in the book that I could find as to why I refused to seek Him to relieve my pain and move on with my life. My main excuse was that I wished I could just run to an altar, kneel down, and with tearful repentance of my pride and stubbornness, cast all my burdens on Him. But I could not do so because my husband and I had not yet found a church home, meaning I have no such altar. And then the Holy Spirit gently reminded me that I actually have the freedom to do all this, and more, because of Jesus Christ.

Jesus sacrificed His life to give us the opportunity to have a relationship with God (2 Corinthians 5:14-21). We no longer have to wait for a priest to enter the Holy of Holies once a year and offer burnt sacrifice to the Lord on our behalf (2 Chronicles 29:19-29, Hebrews 2:17). We no longer fear condemnation or execution for being imperfect, unclean creatures in the presence of the Almighty. We may freely enter His presence just the way we are, at any time or place, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ. And that’s a wonderful thing.

We have the now. We need not wait for ideal conditions. While a church home is important, I don’t have to wait until I find the perfect church with a perfect altar. I can kneel at my bedside, or walk around in my living room, or sit in a parked car. If I truly am a child of God and have a relationship with Him, my altar is portable. It walks with me. It’s a part of me. So I no longer have any excuses.

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So, where is your altar?