Where Your Commitment Shows

Stephen Arterburn

If Christians were on fire for God, it would show in our marriages. Don’t you think the fact that rates of adultery and marital dissatisfaction in the Christian church are no different than the rates outside the church reveals something about our hearts that needs to be addressed?

 

Very few of us are consumed by our marriages, and fewer still are consumed by purity. Yet both are God’s desire for us. God’s purpose for your marriage is that it parallels Christ’s relationship to His church’that is, to be consumed with self-sacrificing love for our wives, and lay down our lives to make marital oneness a reality.

 

But when this doesn’t happen as we’d like, we get frustrated. ‘Well, if this is how she’s going to be,’ we think to ourselves, ‘why should I go through all the effort of serving her, and of being pure? She doesn’t deserve it.’ We’re tempted to retaliate and withdraw from our responsibilities.

 

Men, we all need reminding that our marriages are unconditional covenants, not conditional contracts. That means that amidst ever changing conditions and emotions, our commitment must never waiver.

 

Perhaps you’re finding it difficult to cherish your wife’to treat her with tenderness and hold her dear. Warm, romantic feelings are great, but fleeting. What if you don’t have them at the moment you need them? Lean upon your commitment to God. Be faithful to your commitment made before God and witnesses and don’t let your marriage covenant be dictated by feelings alone.

Maintaining Vibrancy in our Devotional Life

David Mackey

Growing up in the church, a constant theme was the importance of a daily devotional life. As I recall this came in one basic outline: Read the Bible daily every morning and pray. There seemed to be little variation in this edict, only a variation in how much of the Bible one read. Reading more was always better. Basically this was the quest and I failed miserably. For many years I rarely succeeded for more than a few days in a row following this type outline. And when I did read, many times, it was just reading’ there was nothing vibrant about it.

Good news!! Vibrancy can be experienced. I finally did discover that vibrancy could be found in one’s devotional life. What hindered me for so many years? Perhaps several things but I believe a primary hindrance can be found in one’s heart. Consider the heart. The heart is that part of our being in which we find our beliefs and values residing. In the church you often hear phrases like ” invite Jesus into our heart,’ and ”believe with all your heart,’ etc.

When it comes to our devotional life, what do we believe, or what value does a devotional life have? Consider just one belief that might hinder vibrancy. It might go like this, ‘God demands I have a devotional life in obedience to Him and in order for Him to keep me from relapse.’ Variations of this belief might be, ‘It is my duty to maintain a disciplined devotional life.’ Or ”without a disciplined devotional life I will not please God so he will not keep me from falling.’ There are many such beliefs that could hinder vibrancy. What would happen in one’s life if we believed that God does not REQUIRE a devotional life?! Rather God INVITES us to have a devotional life. What would a devotional life be like if we believed that the purpose of this invitation is deep intimate relationship with Him rather then a tool to prevent relapse? How would ones vibrancy change?

God, the almighty creator of all things, invites us to know Him as ‘Abba,” Aramaic for ‘Daddy’ (Romans 8:15-16). Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords calls us brother and friend (Mark 3:35 & John 15:14). If we believed we are invited into this kind of relationship, our devotional pattern might be different and lead to a great degree of vibrancy. Our devotional life may be more akin to pursuing friendship, brotherhood, and sonship. Vibrancy in these earthly relationships is not found in obedient, disciplined habits. Rather it is found as we pursue those relationships regularly and in many different ways. When we desire relationship with our friends, brothers, and Daddy we find unique ways to be in close contact. We don’t allow our busy schedule to hinder us. If we made this belief change, there will also be a change in how we pursue intimate relationship. Rather than one disciplined daily habit we likely will add many creative and changing ways to stay in touch, throughout each day. Consider some ideas listed below:

Read small amounts of scripture several times a day.
Write and pray your own Psalms.
Pray Psalms from scripture that express your heart’s joy and sorrows.
Include worship and praise music in your listening habits.
Read the worshipful writings of early church fathers.
Schedule a weekly 2 to 4 hour time to just meditate, listen, and pray.
Schedule personal weekend retreats.
Find a church whose emphasis is worship and relationship.
Read a different translation of the Bible.
Listen to the Bible on CD as you drive throughout the day.

All of the above are tools and activities that can be used to know and hear God. Vibrancy will be found when done with the purpose of intimate relationship with God. Don’t miss the point. Disciplined and daily devotions should be developed in a believer’s life. This seems to be especially true as we continue to win the battle. If this discipline is rooted in obedience and approval from God, the disciplined devotional life can easily become a routine of our mind. If, however, our purpose is toward a brother and friend relationship with Jesus, a son relationship with the Father then our devotional life will be quite different. It can be vibrant and it will likely grow as we discover creative ways to pursue God through out each of our days.

For more help on this topic see Being Christian: Exploring Where You God and Life Connect.

As Christ Loves the Church

Dave Boyle

No doubt you have heard about all the publicity surrounding the new Mel Gibson movie called ‘The Passion of the Christ.’ Perhaps you have gone to see it yourself. In any event, you probably know that it depicts, in very horrifying and graphic detail, the last twelve hours of Christ, and the emotional and physical turmoil that He went through. The movie shows just how much Jesus suffered and endured to be our sacrifice and die for our sins. Basically, He gave everything He had.

OK, you’re saying, I believe that, and I’m eternally grateful to my Lord, but what does that have to do with where I’m at, as someone who was or is struggling with sexual integrity? Well, the parallel can be found in a verse found in Ephesians chapter 5, verse 25. ‘Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church.’ Too often the next part of the verse is preached on, the part about wives submitting to their husbands, and this verse is ignored. ‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.’

One of the basic tenets of recovery is that it is always better to focus on doing something that is positive, rather than not doing something that is negative. The man who says, ‘I’m not going to drink tonight, I’m not going to drink tonight,’ usually ends up drinking that night. The woman who says, ‘I’m not going to eat that ice cream, I’m not going to eat that ice cream,’ usually ends up with at least two scoops. In our terms, telling ourselves repeatedly all day that we’re not going to get on the Internet porn sites after our wives are comfortably tucked away in bed, quite frankly does not work. We end up going there, and experiencing the guilt and the shame and all that goes with it.

‘Husbands, love your wives as Christ loves the church.’ Go see the ‘Passion of the Christ’ and get in touch with how much Jesus loves the church, which, brother, is you. And then process in your minds and your hearts how you’re going to show your wife that love. It may be something simple like foot rubs. It may be giving up a Saturday to go to the kids games or take her shopping. It may be learning what her favorite flower is and getting her a bouquet. It may be sitting down a couple of times a week and reading ‘Every Woman’s Desire’ together. But if you’re going to love her as Christ loves you, you’re going to have to be prepared to give up everything. But the great thing is, as you emotionally and spiritually attach and bond with her, the power of that false intimacy on the computer screen starts to fade, and the recovery begins. Focus on doing something that is positive, rather than on not doing something that is negative. And if you’re single, this same principle applies. Learn how to relate emotionally and spiritually to other guys, and to women as friends. Loving others, unconditionally and sacrificially, is one of the greatest tools in your recovery arsenal. Don’t be afraid to use it.

What’s the next step after attending Every Man’s Battle? Join us (with your spouse if you’re married) at our next New Life Weekend.