Archive | August 2011

Marriage is Simply Divine–Part Five

The following is a message I wrote several years back as part of a class in Genesis.  It is a look at the Biblical pattern and design for marriage as God intended.  In our day and age of disposable relationships, throw-away marriages, and do what you want when you want behaviors,  we desperately need to be reminded of how this wonderful gift began and what it was meant to be.  Over the next few posts we’ll look at reminders that Marriage is Divine by Design.  -Blessings!

THE DIVINE OPERATION OF MARRIAGE

We have seen how God originated marriage in His own mind, and how He ordained it by bringing woman to man, and we have looked at the divine order of marriage seen in verse 24. In these closing moments I want us to consider why God created marriage. To do that I want us to look at a passage in Malachi.

“But not one has done so who has a remnant of the Spirit. And what did that one do while he was seeking a godly offspring? Take heed then, to your spirit, and let no one deal treacherously against the wife of your youth.”

Did you hear what God was looking for? Godly offspring. It doesn’t take much effort to look at the world today and see ungodly offspring. As the fabric of the family continues to deteriorate we will see more and more ungodly children growing into ungodly adults and the cycle will continue to repeat itself in an endless cycle, unless we start taking steps to end it now. One way to stop it is by educating people about the operation of marriage. There are two things we must understand concerning marriage in this light:

A. It is the only grounds for sexual purity.

Regardless of age, sex out of the bonds of wedlock is wrong. For a vivid picture of the cost of this terrible situation simply consider that in the area of Texas around the Dallas-Fort Worth area some 40% of all households are single parent families. In addition to the tragic consequences placed on the children of those homes there is also the threat of sexually transmitted disease and sexually deviant behavior that must be considered.

B. It is the only grounds for procreation.

Because sex outside of marriage is in defiance to God’s original plan, therefore marriage is the only grounds for producing and nurturing children. When marriage is permanent, as we’ve already discussed, those children have an opportunity to grow up and become Godly people.

A part of God’s intention when he ordained marriage was that from the union of the man and the woman would come offspring who would serve Him and enjoy fellowship with Him.

Marriage is Simply Divine–Part Four

The following is a message I wrote several years back as part of a class in Genesis.  It is a look at the Biblical pattern and design for marriage as God intended.  In our day and age of disposable relationships, throw-away marriages, and do what you want when you want behaviors,  we desperately need to be reminded of how this wonderful gift began and what it was meant to be.  Over the next few posts we’ll look at reminders that Marriage is Divine by Design.  -Blessings!

THE DIVINE ORDER OF MARRIAGE

Look again at Genesis 2.24

For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.

I’ve often wondered about Moses’ thoughts as he penned this verse from God. I wonder if he thought of his own wife, Zipporah. She had been a gift given by her father Jethro to him. When they were united they had no idea that one day they would be wandering in the wilderness together leading the children of God. It gives the verse a whole new light when I think about it in this way.

Charles Swindoll put together a Bible study guide entitled Strike the Original Match.[1] I’d like to borrow his outline for this verse.

Marriage calls for Severance.

Popularly referred to as the “Leave and Cleave” principle, couples must be willing to leave behind their families, homes, everything they have become familiar with and comfortable in.

Years before Moses would write these words God called to Abram and asked him to do just that, and in faithful obedience Abram followed God’s calling. (Gen. 12.1-4) Abram was asked to leave behind his family and all that had been familiar to him and to step out in faith to follow God to a place that he could not yet see. This is severence to the Nth degree.

That passage about Abram is particularly important to me in my marriage and in ministry. When Andie and I were married we had no idea that one day the Lord would ask us to leave Vermont, her home for all her life. We could not have begun to dream that we would move from Vermont to the capitol district of New York, to urban West Virginia, to one day find ourselves in the rural Southeast Alabama town of Clio.

Severance. Note, this is not alienation from our parents. On the contrary, they have a great deal of wisdom of which we would be smart to avail ourselves. Swindoll writes concerning the child’s severance from parents, “So listen to their advice. Then make your own decisions–and be responsible for them.” And concerning the parent’s, “Severing means training a child so that he or she can become independent in a healthy, natural, flowing fashion.”[2]

Leaving also means that we don’t compare our spouse with out mother or father. It means that we must develop our own way of dealing with things together that reflect the uniqueness of our marriage.

Marriage calls for Permanence.

The second half of the “Leave and Cleave” command is a command of permanence. Cleave means to cling to, to glue yourself to, to keep close and remain constant. Thus, marriage is intended to be a permanent relationship. A secured and unbreakable bond.

I saw an advertisement recently in the Dothan Eagle that caused me to feel nauseous. It said, “Quick, Easy Divorces, $250.00 and up.” How disappointing. Unfortunately that lawyer will probably generate a lot of business with that ad because that is the growing mind-set among couples today. They enter into marriage with the idea that they can always call it quits if it doesn’t work out to their liking.

In Newsweek February 19, 1996 there is an article entitled “Tightening the Knot.” It’s primary focus is the efforts being made to eliminate no fault divorce, a law which has been in effect in most states since the 1970s. [It’s interesting to note that since the introduction of “No Fault” laws the rate of divorce has almost tripled from .4 million in 1960 to 1.2 million in 1994.] In essence what the law says is that a spouse may divorce another spouse without needing to show proof that the spouse has done anything deserving divorce. In the 1950s there was a song, “Breaking Up is Hard to Do”, but today the chorus would be different as breaking up is entirely too easy to do. This week in Michigan a divorce reform bill will be introduced which will require people seeking divorce to: (1) Prove fault, such as adultery or abuse; (2) Participate in family therapy; (3) Plan ahead concerning their children’s care and financial future. In addition there will be a part aimed at engaged couples that would make prenuptial counseling beneficial by providing cheaper marriage licenses to those couples who participate in it.

If only we could reach out to couples where they are right now and tell them that God has a plan for their marriage, and that part of that plan is that they commit themselves to stay together permanently, O what a difference it would make in the situation of our nation right now. Permanence, that’s one of the things that marriage calls for from it’s participants.

Marriage Calls for Acceptance.

Let’s clear the air right now about a couple of things. I’m not perfect, and neither are you. When my wife and I became one flesh in a spiritual sense (not sexual) an amazing thing happened, we discovered that there were rough spots on each other that needed to be worked out. I found out she wasn’t perfect, and she discovered that her “Knight in Shining Armor”–she really used to call me that…..before we were married–had a few spots of rust in his suit.

The mistake that many couples make is determining to change the other person to conform them into the image that you perceive they must fit. When we do that we essentially are telling God that He didn’t do a good enough job and we had better take over from there! You say, “That’s not what I’m trying to do at all.”, alright, then tell me: Who created your spouse? Who gave him/her to you? Does God make mistakes? We would do well to remember the words to a children’s song I learned and apply them to our mates:

He’s still working on me to make me what I ought to be…

Each of us is a work in progress in the hands of God, and we must remember that when we consider all the “rusty spots” on our spouse we too have rusty spots.

Acceptance means accepting your spouse as the gift God gave you and saying, “You do not have to perform to earn my love or support. I promise to give myself to you as an encouragement and to be honest with you.” It means that your spouse is valuable to you just as he/she is. Where there is acceptance you will find an excitement and a freedom to try new things because there will not be the fear of being shot down for mentioning it or ridiculed when it doesn’t work. And it is this type of acceptance and unconditional love that allows a couple to become one flesh intimately.


[1] Strike The Original Match, Charles R. Swindoll Insight For Living, WORD Publishing

[2] Strike The Original Match, Charles R. Swindoll Insight For Living, WORD Publishing

Marriage is Simply Divine–Part Three

The following is a message I wrote several years back as part of a class in Genesis.  It is a look at the Biblical pattern and design for marriage as God intended.  In our day and age of disposable relationships, throw-away marriages, and do what you want when you want behaviors,  we desperately need to be reminded of how this wonderful gift began and what it was meant to be.  Over the next few posts we’ll look at reminders that Marriage is Divine by Design.  -Blessings!

THE DIVINE ORDINATION OF MARRIAGE

Not only did the idea of marriage originate in the heart and mind of God, but He also ordained marriage. Look again at our Scripture from Genesis:

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name. And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.  So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place.  And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.  And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

A. Man’s Desire is Foreseen by God. In the previous verse God realized that it “is not good” for man to spend his life alone, so he determines to create an ‘helpmeet’ to complement and complete man’s lacking. It is important to note that man has not yet realized his incompleteness and need for companionship, but that need is known to God, and He intends to fulfill that need.

B. Man’s Desire is Fostered by God. The first thing God does is to bring out that desire in Adam. He brought before Adam the many creatures He had made and gave Adam the task of naming them. As each beast passed before Adam he must have become aware that for each one of them there was a mate, and yet he had none. God deliberately awakens in Adam a sense of need, an awareness that he hungered for human companionship, and above all else that he needed and wanted a wife.

God is not a cruel God who would awaken a desire that He will not fulfill and satisfy in His own good way. Unfortunately we are an impatient people who “want it our way right now.” That is one reason it is so difficult for a young man or woman to remain pure in today’s sex-inflamed society. Natural, God given, desires and passions are fanned into roaring flames long before their time by the media and other influences. O, how happy are the man and woman who will let God lead them in that area of their life; who will refuse to “conform to the standards of the world, but will be transformed by the renewing of the spirit.”

C. Man’s Desire is Fulfilled by God. After God has foreseen the need in man and has caused that need to be realized by man he then sets about the task of fulfilling that need according to His plan. He causes man to go to sleep.

It’s interesting to me that God didn’t ask man what he thought an ideal wife would look like, or ask for input concerning her functions. This continues to demonstrate God’s love and concern for us in providing us with the very best. Husbands, consider your wives for a moment. Isn’t she the most perfect wife for you, completing who you are as a piece in a jigsaw puzzle? Wives, consider your husbands for a moment. Isn’t the same thing true about him. Sure we all have flaws. We all make mistakes, but isn’t it wonderful that even as God created exactly what Adam needed to complement him he continues to do that same miracle today. Take a moment right now and tell your spouse that he/she is the most perfect complement to your life, and look them in the eye when you do.

Matthew Henry emphasizes that God created woman from man’s side. Not from his foot, lest he should trample on her, nor from his head, lest she should rule over him, but from his side to be equal with him, close to his heart to be loved by him, and under his arm to be protected by him.[1]

Now, look with me at the end of verse twenty two. “…an brought her to man.” What a vision! God has fashioned from man’s side an exact complement and then He brings her to him as a very special gift, a priceless treasure, a rare jewel, for man to love and to cherish. Next to His gift of Jesus Christ, my wife is the greatest gift that God has given to me.

D. Man Experiences ‘Love at First Sight.’ God has seen the desire for a companion that man would have. He has caused that desire to bloom and grow in man’s heart. He then provided a special gift to fulfill that desire. Then we have here the first recorded words of Adam as he beholds his lovely bride and he exclaims “THIS IS IT!!! THIS IS WHAT I’VE BEEN WAITING FOR!!!” and he breaks into a love song as the joy and exuberance spill out of him like water from an overflowing cup.

I remember when I first met my wife. She was fiery to say the least. In fact, in the very first words we exchanged she was yelling at me and telling me I had made a mistake. I should have learned from that moment, and I might have if I hadn’t first seen her eyes. Something–which I still can’t explain– touched me very deep inside and I was hooked, just like that.

I’m sure that must have been about what Adam felt that day God brought woman to him. This was his perfect mate, like my wife is my perfect mate, and your wife is yours. Husbands, turn to your wives and tell her now that she is a perfect mate for you, and you are grateful that God has brought her to you. Wives, you do the same. God is so good to us!

The entire concept of marriage originated in the mind of God, and He ordained it by bringing to the very first man the very first woman as a gift of love which indicated not only God’s approval but also His blessing upon this union. Man’s joy caused him to break out into a love song to God and his bride.


[1] Matthew Henry’s Commentary in One Volume p. 7

Marriage is Simply Divine–Part Two

The following is a message I wrote several years back as part of a class in Genesis.  It is a look at the Biblical pattern and design for marriage as God intended.  In our day and age of disposable relationships, throw-away marriages, and do what you want when you want behaviors,  we desperately need to be reminded of how this wonderful gift began and what it was meant to be.  Over the next few posts we’ll look at reminders that Marriage is Divine by Design.  -Blessings!

The Divine Origination of Marriage

Genesis 2:18-25 (NASB77)
18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”
19 And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the sky, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called a living creature, that was its name.
20 And the man gave names to all the cattle, and to the birds of the sky, and to every beast of the field, but for Adam there was not found a helper suitable for him.
21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh at that place.
22 And the LORD God fashioned into a woman the rib which He had taken from the man, and brought her to the man.
23 And the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.”
24 For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh.
25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

One of the first things we see is that marriage originated in the mind of God.

18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

John Phillips[1] writes that God anticipated man’s need for companionship before man even realized his emptiness and incompleteness. Before Eve would be held in Adam’s arms God had already held her in His mind. We see that the first time God declares that something is “not good” is when he looks and sees the incompleteness of man. Because God knows what is best for us we should be willing to submit ourselves to His divine plan. Marriage originated with God. He knows the needs of the heart for everyone of His children, and He plans to meet those needs.

While marriage indeed originated with God, the reality is that we live in a fallen society. C.S. Lewis in the book The Screwtape Letters[2] used some potent and alarming words as Screwtape, a senior devil in Satan’s forces, writes to Wormwood, an apprentice devil. Wormwood’s patient, the particular human being he was supposed to be conducting safely to hell, had become a Christian. Since the overall war had been won Screwtape sought to make the best of a “deplorable situation”. He advised that Wormwood lead the Christian to a “desirable marriage.” He admitted that marriage had originated with God, but that marriage has it’s uses even for the cause of Satan. The thought being that a poor marriage would render the Christian useless and miserable. With this thought in mind we must understand that one of the reasons our divorce rate is so high, and broken marriages so numerous is that Satan seeks to attack and destroy those things that God created to make man happy, so that man may be made ineffective and kept miserable. Being aware of that truth will begin us on the way to strengthening our own marriages as well as those around us.


[1] Exploring Genesis p. 52

[2] The Screwtape Letters, Lewis, C. S. Macmillan, 1982

Marriage is Simply Divine–Part One

The following is a message I wrote several years back as part of a class in Genesis.  It is a look at the Biblical pattern and design for marriage as God intended.  In our day and age of disposable relationships, throw-away marriages, and do what you want when you want behaviors,  we desperately need to be reminded of how this wonderful gift began and what it was meant to be.  Over the next few posts we’ll look at reminders that Marriage is Divine by Design.  -Blessings!

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“MARRIAGE IS SIMPLY DIVINE” – Genesis 2.18-25

Capitalizing on a Crisis.

I went to the bookstore this past week and glanced at the magazine rack. As I looked at the covers I noticed a recurring theme in the titles of feature articles. Titles like: “What Makes a Marriage Last?”; “Finding the Love You Want”; “Inspiring Passion in Your Lover”; “Falling in Love Again”; and “Saving Your Marriage” were only a few of the smorgasbord of those available. The theme is that of finding love and intimacy, the problem is that so few had any real substance to them, or anything that would have lasting benefit to the couples. Tragically there was an encouragement to find a new lover, and even consider involving another partner in sexual relations in one particular article on “Spicing up Your Sex Life with Your Mate”.

Magazines aren’t the only culprit however, there were several shelves filled with numerous books on improving your marriage. If you turn your television on most days you will find at least one “Talk Show” discussing marriages gone bad, or how to make a bad marriage better.

The attraction to these articles and other materials is evident. At the root of the crisis is our inner desire to find love and intimacy. The problem is that we are seeking to find intimacy in areas where we were never intended to have intimacy, and consequently we are neglecting the area we are supposed to experience that intimacy–the bond of marriage–in order to acquire it elsewhere.

It is saddening for me to think about how much the media has taken this crisis and exploited it, in essence capitalizing on a crisis that threatens to destroy our families, our communities, and perhaps even the entire country from the inside out. There was no thread of accountability or responsibility behind most of the articles I skimmed, just an obvious desire to take a critical issue and turn it into an opportunity for profit with no regard for the lonely soul who would read what they said and might even try their suggestions.

Before I give you the impression that every article on marriage is bad I did manage to find some good ones as I sifted through the trash to find that allusive jewel. One particular article that I found to be well written was in the current issue of Readers Digest entitled “What Makes a Marriage Last?”[1] The writer, Catherine Houck, points out several aspects of the relationship that are found in lasting marriages. Of those she lists are:

  1. Shared values
  2. Friendship
  3. Intimacy
  4. Fighting fair
  5. Tolerance
  6. Passion
  7. Equality
  8. Trust
  9. Commitment

A pretty impressive list, and very well defined. These are all essential parts to successful and lasting marriages.

But, we haven’t come here to talk about what magazine says about marriage, we could do that all day and not accomplish anything of lasting value. What really matters to us, and what is really vital for the families today to understand is: What does God have to say about Marriage? What is His plan? How can He help us today? Let’s take a look at several things God teaches us concerning marriage from the Bible.

(to be continued)


[1] Reader’s Digest, March 1996 pp. 71-74

CONNECTION–The Family of God

Connection – The Family of God

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CONNECTION – What is it All About?

The Family of God or the Family Feud – You Choose

Galatians 5.13-15

  • I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
    I’m so glad I’m a part of the Family of God,
  • I’ve been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood!
  • Joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod,
  • For I’m part of the family,
  • The Family of God.

 

We sing “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God…”

  • · Do we mean it?
  • · What makes being “a part of the family of God” so special?
  • · What is asked of those who would be “a part of the family of God?”

What is it all about? To start with: IT’S ALL ABOUT LOVE….

Galatians 5:13-15

13 For you are called to freedom, brothers; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF. 15 But if you BITE and DEVOUR one another, watch out, or you will be CONSUMED by one another.

The Amplified Version:

For you, brethren, were called to freedom; only do not let your freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse for selfishness, but through love you should serve one another.   For the whole Law concerning human relationships is complied with in the one precept, You shall love your neighbor as you do yourself.  But if you bite and devour one another in partisan strife, be careful that you and your whole fellowship are not consumed by one another.

  • · Why isn’t anything really productive being done in Washington?
  • · Why is there such division racially and otherwise in the nation known as “The United States of America?”
  • · Why are so many marriages in our community and culture destroyed, ravaged by divorce and disunity?
  • · Why are the churches, the fellowships of followers of the Living Christ, divided in disunity and failing in mission all around us?

The Answer is found in this ancient advice from Paul…if we will listen

Today let’s pick this passage apart a little and look at what it meant then and more importantly what it means for us now.

Galatians 5:13 – We are Called to REAL Freedom
13 For you are called to FREEDOM, brothers; only don’t use this FREEDOM as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.

“One of the greatest evidences and displays of freedom is the power to choose.  We have the freedom of choice – to choose to gratify and feed the flesh or to live in step with the spirit…to serve one another in love, or devour one another in selfishness”

Choices…life is filled with them and we make choice every day.

Christian freedom cannot be defined as permission to do anything we want. Rather, it is the opportunity to do what Christ wants, without fear that our performance will be counted against us. We are free from endless ceremonial laws, sin, and fear. But we are not free in the sense of totally governing ourselves or being totally autonomous from Christ. We are under the restraint of the Holy Spirit and the constraint of the higher law, the law of love. Freedom must be used to glorify Christ and serve others, not just to fulfill our personal desires.

This leads to a commandment: “By love serve one another

” (Gal. 5:13). The key word, of course, is love.

The formula looks something like this:

liberty + love = service to others

liberty – love = license (slavery to sin)

Galatians 5:14 – LOVE is the Overwhelming Choice

14 For the entire law is fulfilled in one statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

The Greek word translated summed up could also mean “fulfilled.” Thus Paul’s sentence has two meanings: (1) This law sums up all the others, and (2) this law is fulfilled. In fact, the entire law is fulfilled as the Christian community acts in love toward one another through the power of the Holy Spirit.

What Happens When W e Lose our Love Focus? The Family Feud!

When we believers lose the motivation of love, we become critical of others. We stop looking for good in them and see only their faults. Soon we lose our unity.

· Have you talked behind someone’s back?

· Have you focused on others’ shortcomings instead of their strengths?

· Remember Jesus’ command to love others as you love yourself (Matt. 22.39)

· When you begin to feel critical of someone, make a list of that person’s positive qualities.

Galatians 5.15 – We Choose Between Lipstick Marks or Teeth Marks

15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out, or you will be consumed by one another.

– CHOOSE WISELY

We must guard against using destructive criticism. Paul described a church where people were harming one another rather than helping or healing. Criticism can destroy a person’s inner resolve to remain faithful. It can actually weaken physical health, undermine character, and drain personal resources. These unnecessary attacks often occur during times when a person needs strength and support to face real challenges. For example, a family in crisis doesn’t need to be criticized about sporadic church attendance; they need the support and care of the church.

When we are critical toward others, we are not demonstrating our freedom; we are showing that we may be slaves to our feelings. We must find nondestructive ways to deal with these thoughts and feelings. We must be willing to admit wrongdoing when we do leave “teeth marks” on others by our treatment of them. Love, respect, and honor for

other believers work as strong antidotes to the bites of destructive criticism.

BITING…DEVOURING…CONSUMING

Paul used the present tense in these verbs, indicating that these problems were occurring as he wrote. Such conflict threatened to tear the church apart.

The verbs increase in intensity

  • · daknete (biting, or striking like a snake),
  • · katesthiete (devouring, destroying)
  • · analothete (consuming, annihilating)

In direct and horrible contrast to the command to love their neighbors as themselves, the Galatians were becoming adept at destroying one another’s reputations. Paul’s concern as shown in his figurative description of escalating hostility reminds us of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount

Matthew 5:22 “everyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment… “

The phrase bite and devour one another probably looks back to “an opportunity for the flesh” (v. 13) and looks forward to parts of the listing of “the works of the flesh” (vv. 19-21). Paul had apparently heard that there was serious dissension in the churches of Galatia. He warned them that such attitudes and behavior would destroy them.

The Holy Spirit within gives us the love that we need. Apparently the Galatian believers were lacking in this kind of love because they were “biting and devouring one another” and were in danger of destroying one another. The picture here is of wild animals attacking each other. This in itself is proof that law cannot force people to get along with each other. No matter how many rules or standards a church may adopt, they are no guarantee of spirituality. Unless the Holy Spirit of God is permitted to fill hearts with His love, selfishness and competition will reign.

The Five Love Language Series

The Five Blog Series on the Five Love Languages all Here and In Order

This is the series of blogs I just completed on The Five Love Languages. 

Some Spell Love T-I-M-E

One of the books that I recommend to every couple I counsel or come in contact with is THE FIVE LOVE LANGUAGES by Gary Chapman.  It addresses the way we communicate love with one another.  More importantly it reveals for us how often we miscommunicate when it comes to saying “I love you” with more than words.  As author Gary Chapman says, this type of miscommunication leaves one of the people in the relationship facing an empty “love tank.”  For more about this I recommend picking up the book and reading it…I know you will not be disappointed.

For the next several posts I thought I might briefly pick apart these five love languages and how they work in our relationships.  We’ll start today with “quality time.”

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Quality T-I-M-E

T is for Together

One of the first things you need to know about quality time is that it is time spent together.  It can’t be accomplished via email, text messages, telephone calls, etc.  Quality time is together time.  If this is the primary love language of your beloved you will often hear requests for your time.  Something as simple as grocery shopping together can help feed their love bank and help them feel loved by you.  It’s about being together.

I is for Interaction

Quality time is giving someone time that is not divided by other interests or attention grabbers.  For example, sitting in front of the television (normally) would not qualify as quality time.  Togetherness is about more than being in the same location, it involves interaction.  If the television, computer, movie screen, or children are getting your attention you are likely not interacting in a way that leads to quality time.  Make sure that you are scheduling some quality time that will be free from distractions and allow for greater interaction.

M is for Meaningful

A key element of this Quality Time is that you engage in meaningful conversation together.  In his own BLOG Chapman writes:

Like words of affirmation, the language of quality time also has many dialects. One of the most common dialects is that of quality conversation. By quality conversation, I mean sympathetic dialogue where two people are sharing their experiences, their thoughts, their feelings, and their desires in a friendly, uninterrupted context. If your spouse’s primary love languages is quality time, such dialogue is crucial to his or her emotional sense of being loved. Sit down. Ask questions, and listen.

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/2009/01/speaking-the-love-language-of-quality-time/

One of the things my wife and I strive to do is get together and have coffee and play cribbage in the morning.  It allows us some time, before the demands of the day flood in, to talk and enjoy time together.  Another way of doing this is by maintaining a regular date-night together where you spend time talking with each other.

At a Loss of what to Talk About?  Try these for starters:

§ Something you Appreciate

§ Some New Information

§ Things you wonder about

§ Something that’s bugging you

§ Wishes, Hopes, and Dreams you have

E is for Engaging

Being engaged means that you are actively participating in the time together.  You have to be there when you are there.  I admit that I can easily be guilty of being present physically but far removed emotionally and mentally.  Your primary love language might not be Quality Time.  In fact it might not be your secondary love language either.  However, if it is your partner’s love language it is crucial for you to demonstrate your love for them through their love language.  So be there and be engaged.

So…Give Time a Try

None of this is going to happen automatically, you will need to make it a priority.  However, the more you engage in this practice the more natural it will become.  Even if Quality Time is not your primary love language you will begin to enjoy the time you spend filling your sweethearts love tank, and you will learn new things about them that you might not have discovered any other way.

For more information and encouragement I, once again, strongly recommend that you pick up a copy of Chapman’s book The Five Love Languages.  It’s available at most bookstores, Walmart, and online at numerous locations.  I prefer www.cbd.com for my book purchases, but www.amazon.com would have it as well.

Check in later for the next installment on the Love Languages.

Blessings!

Some Spell Love B-R-A-V-O

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Are You a Cheerleader?

Have you ever wondered why football teams need cheer leaders?  I mean, can you picture a scenario where they are of any real value to the game?  Imagine, you are down 35 to nothing.  The coach has tried everything, the team is dejected, and the fans are heading for the exits, and it’s just the start of the second quarter.  Suddenly a quiet but growing chant begins to waft through the stadium. 

“Be aggressive…Be aggressive…B-E  A-G-G-R-E-S-S-I-V-E…”

The quarter back leaps to his feet and yells to the rest of the team…that’s it guys…we forgot to be aggressive.  With that the tide of the game turns and what looked like a hopeless slaughter turns into an overwhelming victory.  At the end of the game the cheer squad if lifted up on to the shoulders of the players as they stride off the field victorious, thanks to the cheerleaders.

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Sound silly?  It would be if it weren’t for the knowledge that our words, or sometimes lack of words, can in fact have a significant impact on the lives of those we love.  See, just like quality time is one of the love languages, so too is giving words of affirmation.  Actions often speak louder than words, but not always. Let’s consider this love language as we see that some people spell love B-R-A-V-O.

B is for Basic

There are basic things that we do with our words that have a tremendous impact.  It starts with simply being polite and well-mannered.  I’m often stunned—and saddened—but the number of couples I talk to who have stopped being “nice” to each other. 

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As a kid I remember being reminded at least a million times to say “please” and “thank you” to everyone.  They were referred to as “The Magic Words.”  I’m not sure if these is still taught to kids today…evidence seems to say that it isn’t.  However, in our most intimate and closest relationship we need to keep these words, and many more, active in our vocabulary bank.  We have to speak to each other with basic courteousy, whether our primary love language is words of affirmation or not we should make this a practice.

R is for Random

One fellow came home from work with a bouquet of roses and a box of chocolates for his wife with no real reason or special occasion to celebrate, just to say, “I love you.”  She met him and the door and burst into long painful sobs.  He was, understandably, confused.  She began to lament all that had happened through the course of the day…broken dishes…backed up drains….messy kids….burned dinner…etc….finally gasping a breath she concluded, “and now to top everything off you come home drunk!!’

Random words of affirmation will be surprising, and may at first be met with skepticism—especially if this has not been a regular thing for you.  If you start today giving words of affirmation to you beloved, but before today most of what you had to say wasn’t worthy of saying, it may sound a little like a foreign language.  Keep at it though, because it will pay off in huge dividends over time.  Keeping it random helps us avoid getting into ruts where they are the same words at the same time which would eventually sound somewhat hallow.  Surprise with your speech and see what happens.

A is for Authentic

clip_image008It is possible to really go “over board” and become unbelievable with our words of affirmation and appreciation.(Appreciation would have also been a good ‘A is for…’ topic too)  We need to be authentic with these verbal gifts.  For example, telling my wife that she is the best cook in the world and should have her own restaurant would be exaggerating and she would see right through it.  (Honey, I’m not saying you aren’t a good cook…you know what I mean.)  It wouldn’t be authentic praise and therefore would sound hallow, albeit flamboyant. 

So, keep you words of praise and appreciation believable and authentic.  Talk about the traits and character of your spouse.  Positively point out things that he/she has actually done that have meant something to you.  If you start offering false praise it will become harder for the one you are attempting to affirm to believe that you mean what you are saying, and you will be leaving them feeling unloved once again.

V is for Voluntary

At first it may seem that you are having to force yourself to do this.  That’s ok.  As I mentioned earlier, if you haven’t already made a habit of being complimentary and courteous in your speech with each other it might feel awkward when you get started.  Keep at it though.  As this becomes a practice it will become more natural and essentially voluntary.  I believe that you will even want to do this more as you open your eyes to the things your partner is doing that you might not have noticed before and as you become aware of the positive aspects of your relationship.

O is for Often

There isn’t a pattern or formula that comes recommended by the experts.  I would simply say that the best frequency for these words of affirmation would be to make them part of your life often.  A good time to do this is on a date night—which I highly recommend for every couple.  Go to dinner, even if it’s the McDonalds dollar menu, hold hands, and speak affirmation to each other.  As I said, even if this isn’t your primary love language, no harm will be done by hearing words of affirmation.  If this is your partners love language, however, you will be loading their love tank in a major way, and you will be giving them a precious gift that there is far to little of today…

ENCOURAGEMENT

The song, “Home on the Range” talks of a place “where seldom is heard a discouraging word.”  Truth be told that isn’t true about most homes and families around us. 

Yesterday I watched, sadly, as a couple tore into each other in a public parking lot.  Profanity, anger, hatred, all seethed out of both of them.  As they walked sullenly to their car I wondered what it would be like in their home.  Every couple has faced times of pain and anger…words spoken in haste.  Making a practice of speaking encouragement and affirmation will change your home…and perhaps impact other areas of your life as well.  Give it a go, after all…

Some spell love…

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Some Spell Love A-C-T-I-O-Nclip_image011

One of my favorite authors on the area of marriage and family is psychologist Dr. Kevin Lehman.  Dr. Lehman wrote a book several years ago entitled Sex Begins in the Kitchen.

Let me put you at ease, this is not a book about sex, at least not as much as it is about realizing the root of a satisfying and exceptional sex-life in the bedroom is a strong and intimate relationship outside of the bedroom.  I reference the book because I learned more in the first few pages of that book then in many other endeavors.  Lehman recounted a story of a woman who dragged herself home after a long day, exhausted, and dreading the pile of dishes and chores that awaited her.  To her astonishment she entered the kitchen and found that in place of the pile of dirty dishes there was her husband drying and putting away the last few plates.  In that moment this middle-aged, somewhat pudgy man with the receding hairline was the hottest and handsomest man she’d ever seen.

We have looked at people who spell love T-I-M-E and those who spell it B-R-A-V-O.  In this post we’ll take a look at those who spell it A-C-T-I-O-N. 

People that spell love this way are people whose primary love language is ACTS OF SERVICE.  These folks aren’t impressed with what say as much as what you do.  They also don’t crave that QUALITY TIME experience as much (not that time together ever hurts). 

A is for Act

The thing that makes the story Kevin Lehman shared with his readers such a significant story is that the husband wasn’t asked or expected to do the dishes.  He saw them and went to work on them.  Loving a person with acts of service means seeing needs and acting on them. 

I struggled with this for years.  I was just oblivious to things my wife needed me to do to help her—and to love her with action.  While we were in college, and both taking a full load of classes, the need to ACT became more apparent to me.  It didn’t come naturally for me to see these things…it still doesn’t…but I discovered that by doing these little acts of service for her she felt loved. 

For example, this week she’s been taking a class all week.  It’s been a pretty intensive course and has meant hours of homework when she gets home.  When she did finally make it home after class I determined to make it as easy as possible for her to do her homework and not be distracted or interrupted.  It was not easy, but a couple days later she said—and I quote her exactly—“I don’t know what you did the other night, but I felt really loved.”  I just have to say that this statement was better than any trophy, certificate of achievement, or other honor I could ever receive.  (Did I mention that my primary love language is Words of Affirmation?) 

C is for Commitment

This doesn’t come easy.  There are plenty of times that I struggle with acts of service.  the excuses come very easily: I am busy…I am tired…I am…I am…I am…  Did you notice that all of those excuses centered on “I” and not on anyone else.  Loving with acts of service requires a commitment to placing that person as a priority. 

This is what I did when I scored so many points the other day.  I made the decision that no matter what I was going to help her get her work completed.  I was committed to her, and placed myself second to her needs that night.  It’s not easy, but knowing that she felt so loved makes it worth it.

T is for Try

You might not know where to start with this.  My advice is to try something you don’t normally do or have been asked to do.  For example, if you don’t usually take care of the trash, do that.  If you don’t normally clean the inside of your spouses car, try that.  Try things and see what kind of response you get.  If your wife usually spends time after supper cleaning the kitchen alone step in and work along side of her, or invite her to sit down while you take care of things.  If she doesn’t pass out and fall to the floor in shock you might find that you have just put some nickels in the love bank.

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I is for Incognito

Let me tell you where I have blown it before.  I have done all the right stuff at times…worked really hard at serving my beloved bride, and thought she didn’t notice.  So, in an effort to help her appreciate all I

had done, I began listing everything I had been doing for her.  Strangely this approach backfired and actually had a negative effect.  Go figure.

The lesson in this is that if I have to announce all that I am doing in my serving of my wife then I’m not actually doing it as service but as employment where I expect compensation.  The Bible would refer to this principle as “not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing.” (Matt. 6.3)  Doing something to be recognized for it robs the action of it’s opportunity to be a service.

O is for Often

How often should you love with acts of service?  Well, I would think that if you are really loving with acts of service you are sort of always on duty, looking for ways to meet needs and help by doing.  Make it frequent…often…seek ways to express your love in what you do, because sometimes actions to speak louder than words.

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N is for Notice

Finally, as you make this commitment be sure that you are taking some time to notice the response from your partner.  Look for evidence that what you are doing is making a difference.  If you notice that it really isn’t then one of a few things may be happening. 

  • You have missed their love language.
  • You have not been authentic in your service
  • You have not given it enough time

Do not give up.  It’s never wrong to serve your sweetie!

Conclusion

Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages asks: “Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter.

Speak the language of love!

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Some Spell Love G-I-F-T

The next love language we will look at is getting gifts.  This isn’t to be confused with materialism or greed.  This is an actual time when the receiver of the gifts experiences love based on the thoughtfulness and effort behind the gift being given.  If this is your love language, the perfect gift or gesture shows that you are known, you are cared for, and you are prized above whatever was sacrificed to bring the gift to you. 

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G is for Grace

Grace is one of those words that we say at a variety of times, often without fully understanding what we’re saying.  Literally grace is giving something that is not deserved.  What this means is that we don’t give these “love gifts” based on merit or performance, but just because we love.  My wife doesn’t have to earn these gifts, and I’m not giving them as a reward for certain behaviors.  If that is the case then it’s not really a gift, it’s more like a wage or reward. 

If you are married or in a relationship with someone who’s love language is receiving gifts it is important that those gifts not be tied to anything except your love, admiration, and appreciation of them.  Anything else will come across as shallow and self-serving.

I is for Informed

If your sweetheart’s love language is gifts then you want to be very careful not to just throw gifts together haphazardly.  One of the things we need to note is that these gift don’t have to be costly.  It’s more important that they are inventive rather than expensive.  Being aware of what your spouse appreciates is a good idea.  Here’s another example of blowing it big time:

clip_image017We had been married for a short time when we celebrated our first Christmas together.  I thought I knew Andie pretty well and what she liked.  One time we had seen a nice aquarium in someone’s house and she commented on how nice it was.  I filed that away in my brain.  Come Christmas time I bought a complete aquarium kit and wrapped it up for her.  I figured I had really scored a goal.  I can’t really describe the look on her face when she opened my prize present to her.  It was a mixture of confusion, disappointment, and curiosity.  She had liked the aquarium we had seen, mostly because it was in someone else’s home and someone else had the responsibility of cleaning and caring for it.  She wanted no part of having an aquarium ourselves.

Get informed by listening, watching, and asking.  Learn what the other person in your relationship really likes.  For example, now I know that Andie really likes a certain genre of books, so I know I’m pretty safe picking up a book by one of her favorite authors.  I know that she likes a certain style of clothing, so again, I’m pretty safe picking something like that out for her.  I know that she’s not really big on jewelry, so I don’t often get anything like that (and I’m grateful).

F is for Frequent

How often do you want to express your love for her?  Hopefully your answer is quite often.  If she is a gift person then look for ways to give gifts frequently.  Remember, they don’t have to cost much.  Really, the don’t have to cost anything.  They just need to express your love.  One of the simplest of gifts could be a hand written note—or get a little more creative and write a poem or short story. 

A few years ago I was pleasantly surprised to open up my lunch and find a note on a post-it from my wife.  It simply said, “Peanut Butter and Jelly is good for your Belly.”  I felt incredibly loved and appreciated—and this isn’t even my primary love language.  I really think that was the best PB&J sandwich I have ever eaten.

Because they don’t have to break the bank these gifts can be given daily, just be creative and sincere with them.

T is for Thought

clip_image019It’s often been said that “it’s the thought that counts.”  There is much more truth in that simple slogan than we often afford it.  I have always found that the times I put more thought into the  gift the better the gift fits.  Like being informed, it’s important to think the gift through.  There is more to think about than the gift itself.  For example, handing a gift to a sweetheart in the middle of a messy diaper change might not be the best timing.  Think about it, when can the gift be given and most appreciated.

Another thing is to think about gifts that really express the amount of thought you have put into them.  Let your gift speak for you.  Here’s something I did that was the reverse of the aquarium fiasco of decades past.

A few Valentine’s Days back I bought a couple packs of 3×5 index cards, two binder rings, and some markers.  I spent several days prior to February 14th writing on the cards reasons I’m thankful that Andie is my Valentine.  On that day I gave her a stack of index cards clipped together with binder rings that contained 100 reasons why I love being hers.  That little stack of cards is still on her dresser.

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So….like all the other Love Languages…there is a primary each person has, but all of these can be an expression of love for our beloved.  So make them a practice.

 

Some Spell Love S-K-I-N

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Now we come to what some consider to be the hottest and the most “awkward” love language.  The Love Language of physical touch.  These views are partly because it is assumed that the love language of physical touch is limited to the sexual experience alone.  While sex is certainly a significant aspect of the love language of physical touch it is not the totality of it.  Let’s think about it together.

NOTE: Regardless of the message of current culture, our peers, societal acceptance, the media, purported experts, and personal experience, sexual relationships are intended to be expressed solely in the bonds of marriage between a man and a woman.  I know that this sounds close-minded and antiquated, but this is my philosophy and understanding as a pastor, counselor, and follower of God’s Word.  Therefore, the parts of this article dealing with sexuality are written with that view in mind—I don’t believe they will be effective outside of the Creator’s design for the physical intimate realization of love.

S is for Sex

While we understand that physical touch is not just sex, it is part of it.  Sex is a critical aspect of marriage, and if your primary love language is physical touch then sex is a tremendous expression of love.  If your spouse’s primary (or even secondary) love language is sex then you need to know that the act of giving yourself to them sexually communicates love in a clearer and more powerful way then your words ever would be able to. 

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Please understand, this love language and the sexual aspect of it doesn’t mean that he is perverted or a “dirty minded old man” any more than the love language of gifts means that he is greedy or the love language of acts of service means he is lazy.  This isn’t about any sort of perversion, but about how to best express and receive love in your relationship.   

K is for Kinetic

Kinetic is energy, specifically energy in motion.  It reminds us that we need to be engaged in the act of loving and not just playing at it.  Here’s what I mean.  Suppose that a man whose primary love language is physical touch is married to a woman who had a different love language.  When she realizes that his need is primarily physical touch to realize and receive love she may be less than enthusiastic.  The Kinetic aspect of this means that there is energy and engagement involved.  In other words, don’t just limply hold his hand, let him know you are there.  Don’t just rub her neck in passing, spend some time and energy on it.  The more engaged you are and the more energy you put into it the greater the communication of your love and presence.

I is for Interesting

The Love Language of Physical Touch is interesting because it is not just about sex, and that means that you can find other creative ways to communicate love—even with your clothes fully on.  I remember the electricity that I felt the very first time that Andie held my hand, so much so that I celebrate that day every year and have for the past 26 years.  I remember with great vividness the first kiss she gave me.  To this day the feel of her hand in mine, the touch of her lips against mine…the simplicity of having her arm resting next to mine on the arm rest in our car…communicates closeness and intimacy to me. 

Keep it interesting.  For me this means being playful.  I love tickling her.  I like to sneak up on her and rub her shoulders as she is sitting in her chair.  (Oh-one sure fire way to discover if your spouses love language is physical touch is to see if they are always trying to touch you somehow…we often use our love language to communicate love to the other person in the relationship.)  So, hold hand, brush arms, rub shoulders, tickle knees, massage feet…touch and you can keep it interesting without it needing to be sexual.

N is for Neglect

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I feel the need, given our sex-crazed culture and the number of marriages I have seen recently fall because of sexual infidelity to give this word of warning.  Do not neglect each other physically.  If your spouse’s love language is physical touch (by the way, this is usually viewed as limited to men, but women may also have this love language) and you neglect to utilize this love language in your relationship with them you will leave them with a craving…longing…thirst for that aspect of love.  Left like that for long there will be great temptation to fulfill those needs in ways they were not intended to.

Remember, it’s not just about sex, but it does incorporate it.  Centuries ago a man named Paul wrote the following that he could just as easily have been writing today:

1 Corinthians 7:2-5
2 But because of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband. 3 A husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise a wife to her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but her husband does. Equally, a husband does not have authority over his own body, but his wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another—except when you agree, for a time, to devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again; otherwise, Satan may tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

clip_image025Causes of and excuses for neglect are many.  Children, work loads, time, illness, bitterness, history…etc.  Please…please…please…Do not neglect each other.  Honestly, do not neglect each other in any of these Love Languages we have looked at.  Neglect will have disastrous consequences for your relationship.

 

Conclusion

clip_image027There is a very helpful website for understanding and exploring the Five Love Languages.  There is an online quiz to help you discover what your primary love language is.  I encourage you to do this together.  Also, if you don’t have it already, get the book and read it together.  It will change your relationship for the best.  There are companion books as well dealing with children, teens, and even workplace relations. 

http://www.5lovelanguages.com/

I hope that these brief articles have been helpful.  Feel free to pass them along, share them, and use them.  Let me know your thoughts as well.

May God Bless Your and Your Relationships Now and Always!

Dave