Browsing Category


Featured Posts, Marriage, Spiritual Formation

You Don’t Have To…

February 24, 2014


Love Never FailsThink for a minute about a person who’s stealing your peace.

Here’s the big test:

Despite everything he’s done or failed to do and irrespective of how you feel about him, will you still choose love today?

Or, will you give him what he deserves, act how you feel in the moment, and ‘cut and run’ when your emotions start to redline or you lose hope for change?

How you answer is the clearest indication of whether your life reveals the influence of Jesus. (John 13:34-35)

It’s when love is most tested that we discover the difference Jesus makes.

One afternoon, our kids were building their own indoor forts in our living room. Our older girls were furiously grabbing every conceivable blanket in the house while our youngest, Max, with his engineer-like disposition, was slower and more methodical.  By the time he was ready to put his “roof” on, the blankets were gone. He looked at his sisters playing inside their forts, glanced back at his pitiful, roofless structure and started ripping off their blankets. Oh, you should have heard the screams! “Max!,” Bonnie said, “You can’t take their roofs.” Without all of the sophisticated justifications that adults have, he simply cried, “But I have to. I need them.”

Conversations like this happen all of the time in our home. They don’t argue from truth, but necessity. “I can’t help myself.” In 1 Corinthians 13:11 the apostle Paul writes, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

What are the ways of a child?

“She made me.” “He deserves it.” “I have no choice.” The response of children is tethered to stimulus–their actions are determined by what other people do and how they feel about it.

Love requires growth out of such a child-like posture of reactivity.

Here are 4 choices you can make today to grow in love:

1. Hold full responsibility for your speech and actions.

No one can pull you from the grace and love of God.

2. Distinguish the source and object of your love.

The source of our love is God, not our emotions or other people. Our reservoir knows no drought or contamination.

3. Keep the cross of Christ between you and others.

We no longer have to look to people to make everything right and repay outstanding debts. Jesus is our healer. He bears our grief and pain. He gives us the power, not just the model, of sacrificial love. (1 John 4:9-21).

4. Choose love for 21 days.

Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-9 each morning and pray, “God, manifest these traits in me today, especially when they’re most tested.” At the end of the day, reread the passage and pray a prayer of self-examination, “God, where were these traits most alive in me today? Where were they not?” After 21 days, you’ll see the difference!

You can find a devotional for this journey in my e-Book, “28 Days to a New Marriage.”

But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him:  Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did. -1 John 2: 5-6

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.  By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:34-35


Don't miss an article! Get them sent right to your email.


Where Intimacy Hides

February 12, 2014

Blue eyes of young woman peeping through a hole

I had just finished our last service one weekend and was on my way out of the church when a young woman with tears in her eyes stopped me. She asked me, “Does intimacy really require vulnerability?” She shared the trauma of her past relationships and how it had basically erected a wall around her heart. She was fine with romance, but the definition of intimacy I had given during that morning’s service seemed like an impossible standard to her.

“…Entering into another person’s brokenness and pain with a heart to bless rather than flee or blame.”

Dr. Dan Allender captures this idea of intimacy with a personal story. He and his family were on a ski slope. He was waiting at the bottom of the mountain, and his wife and son were not quite halfway down. His son had fallen and refused to get back up. Finally, Dr. Allender walked back up the mountain to “fix things.” He motioned to his wife to get out of the way so he could sufficiently motivate his son to stop acting like a baby. His wife stood between them, protecting her son from her husband, but not in a mean-spirited way. Dr. Allender was quite livid by the time he got to them, but she just put her hand on his chest and said, “I know the men in your life who have humiliated you.” In just a few words she sucked all the anger out of him and brought him to a stunning moment of self-awareness. “I know that is not what you want to do with your son. You are a good man. You’re a good father.” Then she turned and skied away.

That’s intimacy.

It’s good to differentiate between romance, intimacy, and love.

Love can create intimacy, and intimacy can create romance. Without true intimacy, though, romance leaves us feeling like empty shells. And intimacy is only possible through love.

Here are two intimacy killers:

“I can’t let him see this part of me.”

Vulnerability is a prerequisite to intimacy. What we keep in hiding functions as a chasm between us. We wonder why we don’t feel much of a connection when we’re so guarded and full of fear.

“I can’t help him with that.”

The pursuit of intimacy is complicated when we suffer from our spouses’ brokenness or help cause it. Usually, those struggles are the very forces that drive us apart from one another. We judge and blame. We feel defensive and fall into self-protection modes. When we choose the inner characteristics of Jesus that the apostle Paul describes in Colossians 3:12 (compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience), though, and allow them to help us forgive and forbear (as described in the next verse, 3:13), we will experience intimacy.

So enjoy the romantic dinner, but don’t confuse it with intimacy! If you want intimacy tonight, open your heart a little more than you have in the past. Enter into his or her pain and brokenness with a heart to bless. You’ll be amazed at the connection that can form!

Don't miss an article! Get them sent right to your email.