Posts Tagged ‘marriage’



I enjoyed PhoenixONE tonight. I got to worship with all my friends under the stars. I also got to catch up with some dear friends that I have made over the years while on mission in other countries. I met Pastor Joseph “Jojo” while in Kenya at an orphanage. He was brought to the orphanage at a young age and is now the Pastor there. I got to hang with him a couple of times this week and we had some great talks. I also chatted with Suresh Kumar from Harvest India for a little while. He gave a special prayer over us and I’ve always appreciated the role he has played in my life. I have had many great God moments with Suresh over the years. Jeff Gokee interviewed some friends of mine that recently got married – Johnny and Criselda Sweet. They have a great testimony and it’s awesome to see a couple that is sticking it out and doing marriage right. My good friend Ryan Axtell led worship and Jeff gave a pretty awesome message on relationships. After years of working under him in 5th/6th grade student ministries, I have never heard him speak on dating and was pretty impressed with his talk. He was pretty hard on both the guys and the girls, but I felt he did it in love and it was a sermon many of us here needed to hear. Ryan and Sara Senters gave their testimony of having foster kids afterwards and I enjoyed them sharing their heart. It was a beautiful night and a blessing to spend with good friends!


Pastor Jojo


Suresh praying for us


Ryan Axtell leads worship


Jeff Gokee interviews the Sweets


Ryan and Sara Senters

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I read this blog from Karen E Yates and really enjoyed it. Probably because it is so true. I think it can apply to relationships, co-workers, etc as well. I experienced this with my last relationship with an extremely insecure and deeply wounded girl who stonewalled me as well (I am on a very long list of people in her life she has stonewalled). These people are sad, but paint a picture to people that they are healthy. In others words, it’s easy to fall into their trap because we are easily attracted to them. I was vulnerable and fell for my ex because I had just gone through a tough break-up and she threw herself at me when it was over. These people work very hard for love, attention and praise. I’ve been very cautious these days of who I do life with and careful I keep safe people around me. Friendships and relationships should take time to grow, not rushed. We all have faults and sins and you want to make sure that the people you are doing life with are honest with themselves and taking their issues to God, not covering them up.



I risked friendship for her.  And it didn’t turn out so well.

Even now as I write about it, old feelings of rejection stir.

How could she cut me off?  
What did I do?    
Why wasn’t I enough for her?  

Perhaps you’ve been there before.  Or maybe you’re there right now.  Can I just lean over and hug you and say: I’m so sorry.

I’m so sorry you were rejected.  I’m so sorry your offering, what you gave of yourself, was cast aside.  I’m so sorry you were made to feel disposable.

You are most certainly NOT disposable.

In my case, with this particular friend, I look back and realize I should have known better.  There were warning signs.

Warning #1
She came along when I was insecure and lonely. I recently married Bookguy and moved to his turf where I knew virtually no one.  Nobody knew my maiden name–nobody knew my talents–nobody invited me to coffee.  I was desperate for friendship; I would have befriended Stalin at the time.

Warning #2
Our friendship went from zero to 100 in less than two weeks.  Several times a day she would call.  We would chat about a myriad of things: Richard Hatch, boyfriends, Coldplay, and who would win The Mole?  We would pray together, confide, give advice, and laugh.  She seemed so “into” me.  It felt nice, and … unnatural.  Her way of doing friendship was different than mine.  But luckily for her, I had time on my hands!  And limited friends for her to compete with!

Warning #3
I chose to reciprocate friendship her way.  I’ve never been the type of person to have one best friend.  In fact, I pride myself on having many close friends.  Yet here I was with her, hours soaked up by persistent girl-time with someone I barely knew.  It was like making out all night long on your first date.  Too much too soon.  I was overwhelmed trying to keep up, and at the same time, I was smitten with her and the idea of us being ‘best friends.’

One Friday afternoon, about 9 months into our friendship, my phone rang.  Sitting at my desk staring at a jar of pencils, she broke it off.  It was actually the first time a girl friend told me directly they didn’t want to be my friend anymore.  {We women are much more passive aggressive than that!}

Her excuse was something she called ‘the pit.’  Sometimes in relationships things are sailing along hunky dory when she wakes up with a pit in her stomach.  She can’t explain why or where it comes from.  But the pit is there.  Whenever she thinks about the relationship, the pit in her stomach takes over, and she must end it.  

She was ending us.  She ‘got the pit’ with me. 

I hung up the phone and thought of our whirlwind friendship: how fast it came, how fast it went.  I felt rejected.  I felt unwanted.  I thought she was mean.  And selfish.

I picked the wrong person to be friends with.  

Have you ever picked the wrong friend?  Has this happened to you?  What would you do differently if you could?  

For me, I’d …

Fall slower into friendship.  Today I take my time in friendship, and that includes professional friendships.  I watch and listen and observe.  Sometimes I inquire about someone’s reputation.  I am careful to allow time to grow what is a worthy, hopefully life-long relationship.  I tread lightly at the beginning.  Monthly lunches, occasional phone calls, text messages, emails.  I am super friendly.  But I am not overly eager.  This is wisdom.
Be myself.  I have learned that I can be me and you can be you, and we can still be friends, even if we have very little in common!  I will never be a crafting, sewing, cooking mama, but this doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate friends who are!  Chris Seay says you only need to have one thing in common with someone to be their friend.  {I totally agree}.  If you are a true friend, or if you sincerely want to be my friend, you will accept me as I am.  This doesn’t mean permitting sinful, wrong behavior.  It means my quirks are safe with you, my boundaries are respected, my talents appreciated, my heart and intellect, valued.

Not blame myself.  She dropped me like a bag of potatoes.  For whatever reason I was rejected.  That was her choice.  That is not my problem or my fault.  I committed no wrong.  I have nothing to be ashamed of.  After she dropped me, I spent months wondering why.  I agonized over how easily she disposed of me.  And it got me nowhere.  Only more unanswered questions and more hurt.

Friendship is earned, not entitled.  It is a gift you give by your own volition.  It stinks to have that gift thrown back in your face.  But I am sincerely glad I’m no longer friends with someone who doesn’t appreciate what I have to offer.

A warm {hug} to those of you who know firsthand what it feels like to pick the wrong friend.  Grace on you as you forgive and move on!


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Today was an awesome week for me as four couples I’m friends with got married. I can honesty say that all four of these couples truly love Jesus and I foresee all of them having amazing marriages. It’s been a fun day and I’m so excited for all of them! Also I noticed this week is anniversary week for many of my friend’s marriages too. This was especially encouraging to me as many of them had rough starts to their marriages. I honor all of them for gutting it out through the tough times and they are seeing the rewards for sticking it out. It really shows couples who truly believe in God’s plan for marriage and have the faith in His power to make their marriages work. Very inspiring! Congrats to Johnny and Creselda, Jake and Erin, Ben and Krystal and Daniel and Darcy. God bless all of you and your marriages!

“God created marriage. No government subcommittee envisioned it. No social organization developed it. Marriage was conceived and born in the mind of God.”  

~ Max Lucado

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About 4 years ago I wrote this blog about my friend Victor. It’s an amazing story about God and is love for us. Victor was considering taking his life after his wife left him. But then he found Jesus and his life was changed forever. Having a small part in Victor’s life has always been encouraging to me. Today I found out Victor has remarried and I couldn’t be more proud of him. He wrote me recently and told me the day he met and Tom Stone and accepted Christ is a day he will never forget. Love this guy and pray for a happy marriage for him.

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Mark Driscoll, John Piper, Tim Keller, Matt Chandler… I love listening to these guys preach because they speak truth directly from scripture. They don’t sugarcoat anything, especially when it comes to marriage. I wish I could post everything I learned from this conference about what Mark Driscoll preached about marriage at Mission Community Church. He has an amazing marriage with his wife Grace to back it up because they followed the biblical model of marriage and stuck it through the tough times. He was pretty straight up about this – you need Jesus first and foremost. If you don’t know Jesus, your marriage is doomed. You will adopt a secular view of marriage and make it about yourself and give up during the tough times. Mark was to the point about this and several people ended up coming forward to receive Christ because they truly believed they need him to save their marriages. It was an awesome and powerful moment. After the wedding day, marriage becomes a war. Satan loves to prey upon marriage and if you don’t know Jesus, you will find yourself without hope. Your spouse is not your enemy, Satan is. So no matter what, be there for your spouse, pray for him/her and don’t give up. The most important day of your marriage should be the last day, not the first. These were some of the hard-core stuff Mark preached that hit me to the core.

I could touch on a lot of things that were meaningful and that will help me grow and husband – being best friends with your spouse, daily repentance to each other of your sins (Ephesians 4:25-30 model), forgiveness, selfishness, etc. But the one topic that I take to heart and what I have been working on the most is being a humble servant to my wife (Philippians 2:3-8). As hard as I try, I fail this many times over. This comes from how I view my spouse and my idolatry and tendency to control because of my past. I sometimes see my spouse’s issues as too hard to deal with and I start to not see her as God’s child. Then I try to rescue and control her because of the difficulties – a redemption role which belongs to Christ and not me. This leads to frustration and eventually anger because I don’t see results. So what God has been convicting me of is that I need to serve my wife humbly despite any issues she might have and the hardships we endure. I know God has entrusted me with his daughter and for that I feel honored – especially how fragile she is. My committment I have made and what I have promised myself to live up to is to consider her better than me, to encourage her in her walk and help guide her (not control her), to correct her lovingly and humbly when needed and to love her with all my heart all the days of my life. I want my wife to feel safe with me and to trust me more than anyone (but Jesus) and to always know how much I cherish her. I’m totally up for all the work that needs to go into making this happen – I love her that much. And this is something else I’ve had to ask myself – do I allow myself to be served by my wife? I’m not sure if I do or don’t. But when I read about the life of Jesus, he came to serve humbly and he also let others serve him. So I will continue to pray and allow God to continue to work in me and in my role as a husband. I will never give up the fight against Satan for my marriage or for my wife’s soul.

On my mirror in my bathroom I hung a piece a paper a couple of months back as a reminder that reads – How can I SERVE my wife DAILY?

This also really encouraged me – a couple gave their testimony on stage at the end. After 15 years of marriage, he had a heavy porn addiction. After years of loneliness, she developed an emotional affair with a co-worker. Divorce was around the corner for them.  He discovered her phone days before she was to meet her co-worker in Vegas for a weekend. Their secrets were out in the open and they confessed them to each other. They got help and one year later, they renewed their vows and avoided divorce. And now they both say that they have never been happier in their marriage ever after 15 years. And it was all because they knew they needed Jesus and that they fought for their marriage, stop listening to other people and got help. That was their message to the crowd – don’t give up! Man – I cried like a baby seeing the power of Christ work in this couple. It was an amazing two days and I am thankful for God providing this time for me to grow in my own walk as a husband.



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February 17-18   Mission Community Church

New Marriage, Same Spouse link

I think this will be good and I am prepared to step up to the challenge of what the Bible says is truth and what I am supposed to do as a man and spiritual leader of my home.

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In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.

In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:

“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great … beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”… She had dirty elbows.”

In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.

You never marry the right person

The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “

The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:

Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become “whole” and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.

We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.

Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love … ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.

No false choices

The reason that marriage is so painful and yet wonderful is because it is a reflection of the Gospel, which is painful and wonderful at once. The Gospel is—we are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared to believe, and at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope. This is the only kind of relationship that will really transform us. Love without truth is sentimentality; it supports and affirms us but keeps us in denial about our flaws. Truth without love is harshness; it gives us information but in such a way that we cannot really hear it. God’s saving love in Christ, however, is marked by both radical truthfulness about who we are and yet also radical, unconditional commitment to us. The merciful commitment strengthens us to see the truth about ourselves and repent. The conviction and repentance moves us to cling to and rest in God’s mercy and grace.

The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.

Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller. Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.  Proverbs 18:21

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I just wanted a short blog congratulating my uncle and aunt Joel and Jennifer England to 20 years of marriage. They really are a Godly example of what a couple should look like. They have had their trials. They didn’t always treat each other well. They had financial hardships. They struggled for years to have kids (now they have four!). But they have always remained committed and loyal to each other and their marriage. They have put their faith in God and trusted him during the most difficult of circumstances. Joel was like my older brother growing up and he has always put his faith in God. I have always looked up to him and how he lives his life. He has been the rock in our family and I think that is why God has blessed my family for so many years. Now Joel and Jennifer can celebrate the blessings of being so faithful. I’m praying blessings of many more years to come for them. Love you guys!


God has always been strong in my family!

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