Forever Thankful

Man-Praying

In two days people across the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving. It’s a day when we stop, reflect, and give thanks to God for the blessings we enjoy that have come from his gracious hand. In fact, the Bible says “every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father….” (James 1:17a)

As you consider the many things for which you have to be thankful, we want to challenge you to think about your spouse. Ask yourself this question: What am I specifically thankful to God for regarding my spouse? Your gratefulness to God for specific aspects of your spouse will shape your heart and your attitude toward your spouse. It helps to reframe your thinking toward appreciation of the gift God has entrusted to you in your mate.

Here are some things that you might consider. Write down the longest list you possibly can in each of the following categories:

1) Their character

Make a list and give thanks to God that you have a partner who is (you choose what fits): honest, trustworthy, persevering, compassionate, intelligent, humble, courageous, servant-hearted, peaceful, patient, etc.

2) Their values

Values are what drive a person’s priorities. Make a list and give thanks to God for the values you observe in your spouse such as: a heart to please God, love for family, hard-working, devoted friend, faithful servant at church, desire to help others, etc.

3) Their personality

What are the personality traits of your spouse for which you can give thanks to God? Perhaps you can let your mind reflect back on when you first met and dated—what was it that captivated your heart and made you think, “I want to spend the rest of my life with this person!”?

Make a list and give thanks to God for their: joy, adventurous spirit, thoughtfulness, calm presence, generosity, strength, wisdom, spontaneity, heart to learn, etc.

4) Their partnership

As you consider how your spouse joins you in the path of life, what are the things that you appreciate? Make a list and thank God for the things you have observed and experienced such as their: encouragement and support of you when things haven’t gone well, care for you when you’ve been sick, financial contribution to the household, help with parenting, help with tasks around the house (be specific), affirmation of your strengths, loving you as your lover, prayer support, spiritual encourager, etc.

Now, take your list and write across the top: “The Things I have thanked God for about You.” Purchase a frame that will fit your list. Put it together, wrap it up, and save it to put under the tree at Christmas. That list will begin to settle deep in your heart as Christmas approaches and your spirit will overflow with appreciation to God for your spouse.

What are you thankful for about your spouse that you can share below? Stay thankful and let that grateful spirit Build Your Marriage!

The Game-Changing Forgiveness Question

Asking Forgiveness

A friend of ours named David used to have a one-on-one session with each of his three boys beginning when they were just preschoolers.  He would call them into a room, get down on one knee and have them sit on his knee. Then he would ask them one question: “Is there anything that I need to ask your forgiveness for?”

Invariably there was something that they would say he had done that they perceived was a wrong done to them.

The natural reaction for most of us would be to explain why we had done what we did so that the child would understand better what happened. But David held back from making it a teaching moment. He didn’t get defensive or corrective. His concern was for their heart to be freed from whatever pain they may be holding.

So David would humbly say—and model—for each son how to ask for forgiveness.

“I’m sorry. Would you forgive me?”

And with a quick “Yes!” and a hug and kiss each boy would scamper off…with a heart that was more whole and a deeper love for their father because he asked for their forgiveness.

There are SO MANY adults who go through life wishing that their father had done this for them. Because their father never did ask for forgiveness, wounds accumulated over the years. The intimate relationship longed for was never fully achieved.

Imagine what asking this one question could free up in your relationship with your spouse! It has the potential to set you on a new and steeper trajectory!

What might you hear if you asked the question of your spouse: “Is there anything that I need to ask your forgiveness for?” How do you think you would respond to what you hear?

We want to encourage you to seriously consider having this conversation with your mate. As you think about it, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1) Wait to ask the question until you are ready to hear the answers.

2) Just listen to their response without explanation or defense

3) If your spouse want to ask the question back to you, request that they bring it up a different time if they wish. This conversation is a focus on you making things right.

4) Be sure your timing is good and you have their attention. (Dinner prep., diaper changing, oil changing, etc is not good timing!)

5) When you ask the question, listen carefully. Make your request for forgiveness specific to what is shared with you.

6) If your spouse isn’t ready to forgive you, stay humble about the issue. Leave their processing in His hands and let it go. Don’t take offense at what is shared or at how your mate responds—that’s ultimately between them and God.

7) After the conversation, don’t raise it up again or go back to explain yourself. This is an opportunity to practice humility and learn to trust God in your marriage. Let Him be your Advocate.

8) Have peace knowing that you have honored Jesus by seeking to keep accounts clean with your spouse.

9) Ask the game-changing question on a regular basis—and watch how it helps you build your marriage!

Five Marriage Keys

Michael and Rocky Beene FIAMinistries.com

Michael and Rocky Beene
FIAMinistries.com

 

In 2015 I (Brad) was with a team of 11 others from our church on a missions trip to the jungles of Guatemala. We went to work with Faith in Action Ministries founded and led by Michael and Rocky Beene. They are dear friends of ours and have lived in Guatemala almost 30 years reaching the unreached mountain and jungle tribes for Jesus.

Michael and Rocky have raised four children on the mission field, faced numerous threats on their lives, and lived by faith trusting God for their provision and protection. Their motto is to “give them a reason not to kill you so you can share the Gospel.”

At the end of our week I decided to probe into what they believe are keys to build a strong marriage. I think you’ll appreciate what they said:

1) Expectations

Find your joy and satisfaction in life first and foremost in God. If you expect your spouse to be the bringer of all of your joy and satisfaction, it will lead to disappointment due to unmet expectations. God never disappoints and your marriage will be more stable with Him at the foundation.

2) Don’t try to change your spouse

Ultimately they will have to stand before God one day as will you. You can pray for them to change, but you take them as they are. Trying to change your spouse is about trying to control your spouse.

3) Practice grace

Have grace to overlook and forgive. Use wisdom in what to say and where to hold back. Show each other unconditional favor just as God shows us. Forgive each other and see each other as lovable and look at the positive. In the law you want your spouse fixed. In grace you thank God for who they are.

4) Perceptions matter

Being right or wrong is not the most important factor, but the perception of your spouse is important. What are THEY perceiving? If they are offended you have to perceive what they are feeling and experiencing vs. you declaring that you are right.

5) Inclusion

So many are successful in ministry and business but fail in their marriage and family. It has been important to bring each other (and our children) into what we are doing. Let them in on what you do at work. Invite their opinion. Share your burdens and your blessings and let those bonds connect you tighter in your relationship.

What else would you add to Michael and Rocky’s list? Share them below and be intentional as you build your marriage!

Treasure Your Spouse

Treasure Your Spouse

Treasure. Pirates searched for it. Scavenger’s scour oceans for it. Bruno Mars sang about it. Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about it. Jesus taught about it.

The simple definition of “treasure” is “something that is very special, important, or valuable.” When one finds a treasure they are overjoyed and it triggers specific responses from the finder toward their treasure.

In the pages of the Bible God called the nation of Israel his “treasured possession.” (Deuteronomy 26:18) In speaking about investing in the things of God Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12:34)

When did you last think of your spouse as your “treasure?” Jesus’ words about your heart following your treasure apply to marriage as well. You will fall more deeply in love with your spouse as as you learn to treat them like your treasure!

Here are five ways to treat your spouse like treasure:

1. See your spouse through God’s eyes

If you struggle to see your spouse as your “treasure,” then begin with a prayer like this: “Father, please open my eyes to see and appreciate anew all of the wonderful things you see in my mate. Help me to dwell on the good and learn to love them with the love that you’ve shown me through Jesus. Amen.”

In fact, that would be a great prayer for all of us who are married to pray every day! Try it and see what God does in your heart.

2. Show honor and respect to your spouse

When we treasure someone we treat them with value. Marriage expert Dr. Gary Smalley uses the illustration of an old violin. If he handed it to you and said he found it at an auction you would treat it casually. But if he said it was a Stradivarius worth $1 million, you would hold it with awe and respect. Value matters.

Your spouse is more valuable than a Stradivarius. Celebrate them. Recognize their accomplishments at home or at work. Remember their birthday and special anniversary dates (use your smartphone to remember!). Be thoughtful of what they enjoy. Do things that will communicate value and worth to them.

3. Look out for your spouse

When someone has a car or motorcycle they love, they take care of it. They park it further out in the parking lot. It gets cleaned carefully and maintained regularly. When walking away from the car or bike, the owner will often look over their shoulder simply enjoying how their vehicle looks—and they do so with pride!

When someone treats their spouse like a treasure, they take care of them. They protect them from gossip and from others misunderstanding them. They speak of them in the highest of terms. They seek to serve their spouse proactively in little ways that are meaningful—a back rub or foot rub, a favorite meal, a card or gift. Think right now about how you can treat your spouse like a treasure. What might communicate your care for them?

4. Gaze as one in love

Life is so busy and distracting these days that we are usually looking at a screen (phone, tablet, computer, TV). Eye contact is critical in communicating to your spouse that they matter.

Take time to look gently into your spouse’s eyes for a while. Do you see joy? Sadness? Anticipation or fear? Your spouse needs to see gentleness, longing, interest and care from your eyes. Even a flirty sparkle in your eye can go a long way in letting them know that they are attractive and special to you!

5. Express to others your delight

Your love for your spouse comes out when you talk about them to others. Tell people the positive things about your spouse—character qualities or accomplishments. Say these things when your spouse is present so they can hear your delight in who they are.

Don’t be afraid to hold hands, walk arm in arm, put your arms around each other or give a kiss in public. Those little expressions of public affection shout to the world that you two belong together!

What have you and your spouse done to show that you are treasured? Take positive steps forward in treasuring your spouse as your build your marriage!