Power & Compassion Christian Marriage Retreat is the work of Dale Lee [Ed.S. LCPC] & Adi Lee [M.A.], a husband and wife counseling team w/a love for Christ and a passion for helping people.

Five Fun and Inexpensive Date Nights To Keep Romance Alive

Saturday, June 22nd, 2013

couple on beachDating your spouse can be very rewarding. It can lead to getting to know each other better and improved communication. In our hectic society, it can be difficult and often expensive to simply go out on a date. Here are a few ideas to incorporate dates into your crazy schedules to help you get closer to your spouse.

 

  1. The Picnic – This doesn’t have to be the traditional blanket on the grass in the park and you don’t have to cook. If you do choose to cook, it will be cheaper still. My wife and I have found that we love to run to the grocery store or farmers market, pick up sandwiches, drinks and snacks and then head for a drive along a scenic highway. It will cost very little and you can see the beauty of God’s Earth along the way. We tend to eat as we drive and stop on occasion to take pictures.
  2. Local Art – This one can be tricky. How do you not get roped into buying the art? We love to go to one of the little neighboring towns in the county where we live. It was once a thriving fishing village along the lake that has since been transformed into an artsy little resort village. Everyone with any talent that doesn’t have a ‘manager’ sets up shop in this quaint little town. We swing by Starbucks and grab a drink for each of us, or you can take your own, and just walk up each side of the street. We take our time, looking at the art they have on display in the windows. With little to no traffic, we can judge the art without other people trying to push us to buy it. If we decided we like a piece, we wait until morning. If we still like it in the morning, we might go back and buy it. This prevents compulsive shopping and allows us to recognize how the other person perceives the world around us.
  3. Run Away – When one of us is feeling in the dumps, we will run away to one of the other nearby towns. Many times, we get so used to our hometowns that we forget that there are other towns nearby with different shops and scenery. A fun and exciting way to decide where to go, is one of you hold a map. The other person closes their eyes and points. As long as the better navigator is driving, you shouldn’t get lost. Take this opportunity to get to know each other a little better. When driving, there is nothing but the two of you and the open road. You’re on your own adventure with each other, so make it memorable.
  4. Local Festivals – Though it’s not a fancy restaurant or going to a movie or concert, there is plenty of entertainment for very cheap at a local festival. My spouse might have to drag me kicking and screaming to the latest musical performance at the local performing arts center, and I will equally have as much trouble getting her to go to the Hot Rod Show and Shine. But each of us will gladly make the compromise if it means we can bring a little extra happiness to our spouses day, and it is a great opportunity to get to know our spouse better and find out what makes them tick. Remember…the worst thing for a marriage is to build illusions of who you think the other person is or should be. By going with them to experience something they like, you get to know them and learn to appreciate them for who they are.
  5. Hiking/Walking in the local park – Walk around the whole park and find the perfect spot to sit and talk. There’s no time like the present to start practicing communication. You may have your whole lives ahead of you, but communication can break down in the blink of an eye. Practice now and practice often to add strength to your marriage. Our spot is near the smallest of the waterfalls at the local park. It has a gazebo and since everyone insists on sitting and watching the largest waterfall in the park, no one bothers us. Remember, for your marriage, communicate often and take time to spend time together. You don’t need to break the bank to do it.

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Dale & Adi Lee operate Power & Compassion Christian Counseling in Kalispell Montana with a heart for helping couples, families and individuals work through their problems and difficulties by providing knowledgeable counseling advice through the lens of Gods word.  Their real passion is for helping couples to build strong marriages, by teaching them how to communicate effectively, build strong romance into their marriage and teaching them how work through the times of martial strife and difficulties through christian principles and effective counseling.  You can learn more about their marriage counseling services by visiting http://www.christianmarriageretreats.net

Gods Example of Love and Life

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

God's example for man “God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it…” Genesis 1: 27-28

Indeed God did make Man after His own image. He gave us the right and ability to make our own decisions, to choose death or life, to live by fear or faith, to choose to hate those around us or to choose to love those around us… but God didn’t just stop with creating us and setting two choices before us. He followed up with His creation by telling us exactly how to live…

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land…” Deuteronomy 30:15-18

God spells it out pretty clearly in Deuteronomy. We have two choices we can make…life or death…blessing or curse. And He tells us to choose life and to choose to love! But then God went even one step further than that, by actually showing us how to live, by becoming a living example of what we should be. God took on human flesh and lived among us on this earth for three decades in the person of Jesus Christ, and he lived a life of love and compassion and overcoming power that we are supposed to pattern our lives after.

“Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. Ephesians 5:1”

“Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 John 2:3-6”

As I ponder this subject, I am reminded again of something that Mike Mason said in his exemplary book “The Mystery of Marriage: Meditation on The Miracle*”…

“Forming a relationship with us that is far deeper than anything we can possibly know among people is the way God has of challenging and inspiring us to yearn for this same divine depth in all of our human friendships. Were it not for the profound and intuitive knowledge of the Lord in our hearts, we could not know what depth of relationship is and would never miss or long for it on the human level. And so the very distance we feel from the person we love most dearly may be, paradoxically, a measure of the overwhelming closeness of God.

Such closeness is not something we have chosen for ourselves, nor ever could have chosen, any more than we could have chosen to be alive in the first place. Such choices are, however, ones that we can grow into, and there is a sense in which they become more and more our own choices the older we get.”

God created us to be and live in His image. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to be a living example of how we ought to live and conduct ourselves in this life and how we should love and relate to others. He left us with His holy and inspired words (the Bible) so that we would have a written plan, a blueprint, and a resource of unquenchable power with which to live our lives in abundance and strength. And then He did something unfathomable…unbelievable…and unmistakable…He actually came down to earth to live inside of us in the person of the Holy Spirit. God gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us with the ability to live the life He demonstrated for us to live. God knew we were to weak to live this life on our own power and accord, so He gave us his own spirit to live inside of us and strengthen us and empower us to live beyond our own means.

“If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:15”

“But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Romans 8:11”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. John 14:15 & 12″

It is absolutely amazing and astonishing, the love that God has shown to us, and how He chose to love us first. Even when we hated and despised Him, still God chose to love us, accept us and even go as far as to lay down His life for us.

“But God shows and clearly proves His [own] love for us by the fact that while we were still sinners, Christ loved us and died for us. Romans 5:8”

We are meant to live with the same love pouring out of our own lives, whether that be towards our spouse, our children, our friends, or our enemies. We are called to love as Christ loved. We have been given the commandment to do so, the instruction to do so, the example to follow and we have been given the power within to walk that love out on a daily basis.

Marriage is a God-designed plan for helping us to get a little better understanding of what a true love relationship is. It is meant to help us see and understand Gods own powerful love for us His church.

Once again, listen to what Mike Mason has to say regarding the subject…

“Marriage is one of the great steps we can take in the direction of choosing for ourselves what has really already been given to us: It is a choosing of the closeness of God, in the form of a close relationship with another person. It is a deliberate choosing of closeness over distance, of companionship over detachment, of relationship over isolation, of love over apathy, of life over death. It is not a choice that comes to us at all naturally. It can come only supernaturally, by the divine agency of love. For love is what makes choice possible. But more than that, it is what makes it possible for people to choose what is good for them, even though that is not their natural inclination.

To put it simply, marriage is a relationship far more engrossing than we want it to be. It always turns out to be more than we bargained for. It is disturbingly intense, disruptively involving, and that is exactly the way it was designed to be. It is supposed to be more, almost, than we can handle. It was meant to be a lifelong encounter that would be much more rigorous and demanding than anything human beings ever could have chosen, dreamed of, desired, or invented on their own. After all, we do not even choose to undergo such far-reaching encounters with our closest and dearest friends. Only marriage urges us into these deep and unknown waters. For that is its very purpose: to get us out beyond our depth, out of the shallows of our own secure egocentricity and into the dangerous and unpredictable depths of a real interpersonal encounter.”

When you really stop and comprehend what God’s design for real marriage is. When you come to understand that marriage was to be a type and shadow of God’s plan for the love and redemption and salvation of his church. And when you actually stop and think of how great Gods love and forgiveness for us is, how can you not recognize just how serious and binding the commitment of marriage is. When we say our vows and make the promise to our spouse to love and cherish till death do us part, it is not a small commitment. It is a reflection of Gods plan of salvation for you and me!

Marriage can be hard, it can be complicated, frustrating, disheartening, and infuriating at times…it is supposed to be. It is meant to be one of the most enriching and fulfilling as well as the most stressful and trying aspects of our life. It is meant to captivate all of our senses and lead us right up to the point of brokenness at times. It is meant to turn us again and again to God for His guidance and help. It is meant to remind us of how much God loves us and how great a sacrifice He made to love us and give His life for us while we were yet sinners.

How many times have you spit in Gods face? How many times have you refused to do what He has asked you to do in love? How many nails have you driven into His hands and feet? How many times have you failed Him, turned your back on Him and refused to answer His call?

Aren’t you glad that Gods loving kindness, forgiveness and mercies are never ending!

Imagine if God gave up on you. Imagine if God said He wanted a divorce. Then what hope would any of us have?

Praise God that His love is much deeper than that, it is deeper than anything we could ever comprehend, and it is our example for love and life.
Choose life, choose love, and let Christ be your example and let His spirit your power and your guide.

If you and your spouse are struggling in your marriage, we want to help! Visit our website to learn more about our Christian Marriage retreat services and learn how we can help set your marriage back on a path to love, strength and happiness!

* Mason, Mike (2010-11-03). The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle (p. 48). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

A Closer Look At The Five Love Languages

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

The five love languages and marriage[Strengthening Your Marriage With The 5 Love Languages - Part 2]

Last week we discussed the true value and importance of love and why it is important to learn which of the five love languages your spouse most identifies with so that you can effectively communicate your love to them in a way that will make them feel special and appreciated.  This week we are going to delve in deeper and take a closer look at the five love languages.  I will teach you how to discover what your spouses love language is, and how to communicate that love to them in a genuine and practical way.

It is not so important that you and your spouse identify with the same love language, what is important is that you take the time to learn what your spouses love language is, and that you make it a habit to communicate that love language to your spouse as often and as purposefully as you can. The point is, if you want your marriage to stand the test of time and continue to grow stronger throughout the years, then you need to make it a daily practice to speak your spouses love language to them as often as you can, and not begrudgingly, but from the heart.

With that in mind, lets take a closer look at each of the five love languages mentioned above…

Words of Affirmation

Some people experience the greatest feelings of love and emotion from being praised for the good things they do, no matter how small or insignificant they might seem. In fact, if you notice and compliment them on the small things, that will actually have the greatest impact on them and show them that you really love and appreciate them in a profound way.

How this looks practically:

Wives, does your husband work hard at his job to provide food and shelter for the family? Let him know that you appreciate his effort. Tell him on a regular basis how good it makes you feel to know that you are secure and well-cared for because of his dedication and sacrifice. Does he take out the trash without you having to ask repeatedly over and over again? Tell him that you are thankful for his thoughtfulness and let him know that his efforts are not going unnoticed. These may seem like ordinary routine things to you, but when someone is noticed and praised for their good works, it will often lead to a greater desire on their part to do even more good in return.

Husbands, does your wife do an amazing job taking care of the kids? Does she keep a clean house and make sure that you never leave for work in the morning on an empty stomach? Make sure she knows how much that means to you! Tell her how great the house looks, tell her how proud you are of the children and how great a job she is doing in raising them. Or maybe your wife is holding down a regular job in order to help pay the mortgage and feed the family. If that is the case, let her know how much her contribution helps and how proud you are of her for what she does. She need to hear that she is doing a good job, and that her contribution is helpful and important.

As you provide these affirmations to your spouse, watch his/her emotions and read how they respond. If words of affirmation is one of your spouses primary love languages, you will know it. Their eyes will light up when you compliment them for their work, and they will respond with love and affection back towards you.

Acts of Service

For some people, words are not enough. Maybe they have been lied to and deceived to much in the past, so they are distrusting of mere words, or maybe their self-esteem is low, so they just don’t accept words of encouragement and affirmations very well. Whatever the case, sometimes, in order to show your love in a way that your spouse will respond to you have got to put some action behind your words.

Instead of just telling your spouse that you appreciate the dinners that they make every night, maybe you should offer to lend a helping hand in the kitchen, in addition to telling them how much you appreciate their service. Tell them how delicious the dinner is, but also offer to clean the kitchen up after dinner.

If your spouse works hard at their job everyday, maybe you should show them how much you appreciate their diligence by preparing a special evening for them when they get home, complete with a candlelight dinner and a back-massage.

Try to think of little ways that you can put action behind your words when you want to tell your spouse how much you appreciate what they do.

Again, remember to watch how they respond to these acts of service, as you are doing them. If your spouse really responds with an upbeat demeanor and reciprocal feelings of love and affection, then you know that you are on the right track!

Receiving Gifts

Gift giving is a natural extension and expression of love. When you love someone you just want to give them good things to express that love. For some people, receiving heartfelt gifts is their primary love language. If your spouse is a person who’s primary love language is receiving gifts, then you will see their face light up with exuberance each time you give them something special, whether it is on a birthday, holiday or ‘just because.’

The gifts you give don’t necessarily always need to be expensive gifts. In fact often times the more simple and heart-felt gifts speak the loudest. A homemade card that says “I Love You” … a couple of flowers that you picked from the garden, or a single rose that you purchased from the corner market on the way home from work. Perhaps it is just a coffee, or a special lunch or dinner out that you treat your spouse to some day during the week. These types of things speak volumes to the person who’s love language is receiving gifts. Make sure you give these special gifts not just on special occasions, but other times as well. If receiving gifts is the love language your spouse identifies with then I recommend you do special things for your spouse often, and for no apparent reason.

Quality Time

Time is one of our most precious resources in life. We only have a finite amount of it to work with, and it seems there is never enough of it in any given day. For these reasons, and because of our own selfish nature, we often times neglect giving quality time to those that we love. However for some people, spending quality time together with you and receiving your undivided attention is the only way that they will really feel your love. Notice I said ‘undivided attention’ that doesn’t mean simply going to the game with your spouse, or sitting down and watching TV for an hour with your spouse. For the individual who’s love language is spending quality time with you, those kinds of activities, even though done together, simply is not going to cut it.

If your spouse is a ‘quality time’ kind of person, you need to shut off the TV and the cell phone and go for a walk together in the park. Talk. Share what’s on your mind, and listen to what is on theirs. Have a quiet candle-lit dinner together. Or just carve out an hour or two in your day after work to kick back on the sofa and talk, or snuggle. The important thing to remember is your spouse needs to connect with you on a personal and intimate level. He/she needs to know that you find them valuable, more valuable than the one-hundred and one other things that you could be doing with your time. You need to take drastic measures to prove to them that this is true, and that means doing whatever it takes to give them your undivided attention for however long it takes.

Physical Touch

Touch has always been an important part of romantic relationships, and relationships in general. We coddle little babies, we hug our children, we kiss and caress our spouses. Infants learn to recognize feelings of love from a parents touch long before they ever learn or understand the meaning of the word love. Touch cuts straight through the noise and confusion of this world and speaks straight to the heart with the message of love.

When it comes to marriage love can be displayed through physical touch in many ways including kisses, a loving embrace, holding hands as you walk, or caressing the back of your spouses neck. It can be touching your partners knee as you are driving or sitting together, or something as powerful and intimate as sexual intercourse. Touch is a powerful emotional connection in any relationship, but for some, it is the single most important way that they feel and experience love.

Once again, with this love language, as with all of the aforementioned ones, watch closely as you communicate your feelings of love to your spouse through touch. If this is the love language that most clearly communicates your love to your spouse, they will let you know know it. They almost immediately light up and get emotional as you begin ‘communicating’ with them on their level. And they will begin to reciprocate that love back towards you in their own way.

One last thing before we close down this article. As you are talking with your spouse, don’t be afraid to open up and share with them what your love language is. Let them know by saying “You know I really love it when you { insert your love language here }.” And encourage them to share their feelings and emotional desires with you as well.

In order to have a strong and passionate marriage and romance, it is vitally important that you discover what your spouses love language is and practice communicating your love to them using that language in the most honest and genuine way possible.

You can learn much more about how to effectively communicate your love to your spouse by attending one of Power & Compassion’s Christian Marriage Retreat weekends. Learn more by visiting our main website here.

How To Strengthen Your Marriage With The 5 Love Languages

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

The five love languages and marriage[Strengthening Your Marriage With The 5 Love Languages - Part 1]

What is love? It seems that the true definition is becoming more and more obscure these days. The term “love” gets thrown around everywhere to describe every sort of emotion these days.

I mean, do you really “love” that sandwich you had for lunch? Did you really “love” that movie that you saw last week? Do you honestly “love” your house, your car, and that new pair of jeans that you purchased at the mall yesterday?

It seems we use the word ‘love’ so non-nonchalantly in our conversations, it has almost started to lose its significance and its ability to accurately describe the true physical and emotional force that is LOVE.

Society has truly done us a disservice by watering down and over using the term love.

Love is one of the most powerful forces on the planet. Love is the foundation of mankinds existence. Love is the very fabric of humanity and the glue that holds all of society together. Love is God, and God IS Love (1 John 4:8).

Every human being that has breath in his/her lungs, whether they will admit it or not, needs to love and to be loved. It is an essential human need, a requirement for a healthy life, just like the air we breath, the food we eat and the water we drink to stay alive. We must have love in order to survive. Thankfully we have a creator, our God who loves us so much that he actually sacrificed his own flesh and blood that we might know and understand his love for us. And the bible lets us know in Proverbs 18:24 and John 15:12 that God is a friend and a father to us. A friend who sticks closer than a brother, a friend with such a passionate love for us that even death could not keep Him from us.

What a powerful truth to know that we have someone who loves us continuously with with a love that is perfect, enduring and powerful. But to really live a healthy and happy life, we need to learn to reflect and share that love that we receive from God, to those around us. So how do we do that? How do we learn to love our neighbors, friends, coworkers, kids, and most importantly our spouses?

Well, there are five basic love languages that we human beings tap into and relate to emotionally.

1. Affirmation
2. Service
3. Receiving Gifts
4. Quality Time
5. Physical Touch

Each of us will identify with one or two of these ‘love languages’ more than the others, and for each person the love language that speaks the loudest might be different, but the truth is we all need to have at least some portion of each of these types of love present in our lives on a regular and consistent basis in order to live a healthy and fulfilling life.

In order to maintain a healthy marriage relationship, it is vitally important that you learn which love language your spouse most identifies with as well, and make sure that you are ‘communicating’ that love language to them on a regular basis. The ‘language’ that speaks the loudest to your spouse and makes them feel truly loved may be different than what you personally identify with, and at times that can be a stumbling block in a marriage.

For many of us, it is easy to get tunnel-focused and only try communicating to our spouse the ‘love language’ that we personally identify with. It is easy to understand why we behave this way. If we receive our own emotional feelings of love and gratification from one particular love language than it is natural for us to assume that showing that same type of love to our spouse is the greatest way that we can communicate our love. Unfortunately many times that is not the case. You might be most emotionally impacted by affirmations or physical touch for example, whereas your spouse might be more emotionally driven by acts of service or quality time. If you only try to communicate your love through hugs, kisses and “thank you’s” that is great, and I’m sure your spouse will appreciate that, but you will not really be expressing love toward your spouse in a way that they will feel emotionally impacted by.

Remember, true love is an act of sacrifice. It is putting your own selfishness aside and giving some part of yourself to another human being, simply because you want to bless them and serve them and make their life better in some way.

In order to truly love your spouse in a way that they will feel and be emotionally impacted by, you must take the time to learn which love language your spouse identifies with, and then learn to communicate that love to them in a genuine and unselfish way.

Next week we will take a more in-depth look into each of the five love languages and how to apply them effectively.  I will also teach you how to recognize which of the five love languages your spouse most identifies with so you can work on communicating that love language to them in order to strengthen your bond and your relationship.

Click Here for Part 2: A Closer Look at The 5 Love Languages

For more helpful advice on how to establish healthy communication and romance in your marriage visit http://www.ChristianMarriageRetreats.net

Beign There

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Ephesians 3:17-19
King James Version (KJV)
That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth,
and height;
And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge,
that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

“A marriage, or a marriage partner, may be compared to a great tree growing right up through the center of one’s living room. It is something rooted and grounded in love, that is just there, and it is huge, and everything has been built around it, and wherever one happens to be going—to the fridge, to bed, to the bathroom, or out the front door—the tree has to be taken into account. It cannot be gone through; it must respectfully be gone around. It is somehow bigger and stronger than oneself. True, it could be chopped down, but not without tearing the house apart. And certainly it is beautiful, unique, exotic: but also, let’s face it, it is at times an enormous inconvenience. So there are many things that can be said about one’s life mate, but finally, irrevocably, the one definite thing that needs to be said is that he or she is always there. And that, while it may be common enough in the world of trees, is among us human beings a rather remarkable state of affairs.

Marriage is the most persistent and ineluctable reminder of the presence of other people in the world: that they are there, that they are real, and that they are wildly different from the imaginary beings who normally fill our thoughts and fantasies. To be married is to be confronted intimately day after day with the mystery of life, of other life, of life outside of oneself. This is not the life of existentialism or of metaphysics or of Zen. It is more intrusively personal than Zen. It is life, human life as one has never seen it before, at closer range than one ever thought to get. The loved one simply is there, in a way that no other living thing in the world except oneself has ever really been there before. Even parents do not intrude and impinge upon one’s adult life the way a spouse does, and it can be rather a surprise to discover that one is, after all, not alone. At night, in the morning, naked, over meals, in bath, and in bed, the partner is always there, there in body or there in spirit, there at the back of the mind and there in the pit of the heart.

Although day-to-day married life may seem as natural and almost as automatic as breathing, yet there is a way in which the two partners never really do get used to one another, not in the way they are used to breathing. As autonomic, as tedious, as dreary as a marriage can become, there is nevertheless something in it that defies being taken for granted. The whole course of a couple’s life together is fated to share that same odd quality of perfect naturalness united with perfect awkwardness—second nature combined with utter novelty—that characterized their first lovemaking. In the long run what is most uncanny about marriage is not any sense of growing familiarity and comfortableness with the enormous reality of this other presence in one’s life, but rather just the opposite: the growing strangeness. As the years roll by, all that happens is that the puzzle of time is added to the original enigma of love. Ten years, thirty years, fifty—it becomes more and more imponderable. There is just something so purely and untouchably mysterious in the fact of living out one’s days cheek by jowl under the same roof with another being who always remains, no matter how close you manage to get, essentially a stranger. You know this person better than you have ever known anyone, yet often you wonder whether you know them at all. The sense of strangeness increases, almost, with the depth and security of the loved one’s embrace.

What is this alien, unknowable place at the very heart of the one we love? Probably it is the place of our own familiarity with another factor, which is that in each one of us the holiest and neediest and most sensitive place of all has been made and is reserved for God alone, so that only He can enter there. No one else can love us as He does, and no one can be the sort of Friend to us that He is. Forming a relationship with us that is far deeper than anything we can possibly know among people is the way God has of challenging and inspiring us to yearn for this same divine depth in all of our human friendships. Were it not for the profound and intuitive knowledge of the Lord in our hearts, we could not know what depth of relationship is and would never miss or long for it on the human level. And so the very distance we feel from the person we love most dearly may be, paradoxically, a measure of the overwhelming closeness of God.”

Mason, Mike. The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle (pp. 44-45). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Parting Questions:

How is the Lord teaching you about yourself through the limits He has placed on your marriage relationship?

How do  you  go about incorporating your life together in Christ?

How is He making you one?

What would you like the purpose of your marriage to be?

How do you draw strength to forgive and forge ahead?

The Three Kinds of Love & What They Mean To Your Marriage

Monday, April 29th, 2013

i-do-weddingMost people do not enter into a marriage having any doubt or hesitation that their marriage will last forever. When we walk the isle and say our vows we do so with nothing but pure love and infatuation in our hearts. Newlyweds look at their relationship and their future together with their new spouse through rose-colored glasses, choosing only to see the good things. You might even say that they are blinded by their love for one another. So, if nearly all marriages start out this way, in this perpetual state of bliss, why is it that so many marriages (nearly 50%) today end in heart-ache and divorce?

 

A big reason why so many of today’s marriages which start out so happy and ‘in love’ end up crumbling into divorce, is because most couples who get married today are not honestly committing to ‘true love’ when they walk down the isle and say their vows. They are getting married on the euphoric feelings of infatuation, based solely on “Hollywood’s” version of love. A version of love that is based strictly on emotional passion and sexual gratification rather than a true commitment to eternal and sacrificial love that God said should be the foundation of a lasting marriage.

 

Sadly most people don’t even realize that there is more than one kind of love, and in the fervor of their emotional romance, they think that their infatuation is all that is needed to stay in love forever, and they assume that it will be enough to make the marriage last. Indeed when you find yourself in the midst of a new romance, the chemistry and the electricity of new love does make you feel like your romance will last forever. Unfortunately history and statistics show us a very different truth.

 

The reality is there are several different types of love that are required to make a marriage strong enough to last the test of time. In fact there are three unique kinds of love that I want to talk to you about today – Affinity; Passion; and Genuine Love. Each of these loves are important, and even necessary at some point in a relationship, but the most important one that will help a marriage to stay strong for the duration is Genuine Love.

 

Let’s take a look at each one of these loves today and find out why each is important to a happy relationship. First we will look at Affinity.

 

Affinity

 

Affinity is that initial spark of attraction that you feel towards the opposite sex. It is that “I like you” feeling. That feeling that makes you want to spend more time with a person. Affinity is the butterflies in your stomach, it is what makes you want to get to know a person on a more personal basis, because you see attributes in them that make you feel alive. Most relationships are birthed out of affinity. We all experience time of affinity in our lives, those moments when we notice attractive features in others that make us want to get to know them better.

 

Affinity is a very important part of getting a relationship started, but it is not a strong enough love to make a marriage last. Affinity is too superficial to stand the test of time. It is too emotion-driven to be a foundational love. The truth is our emotions are fickle feelings at best. Affinity is often based on appearance alone, or appearance coupled with a few personality traits which are often subject to change as our lives progress. After several years of marriage, your partners physical appearance is bound to change, it happens to all of us. With age come more wrinkles, extra pounds of body weight, and many other factors that will change our physical appearance. The point is that a relationship that is based only on affinity is bound to fizzle as aspects of our life begin to change. If affinity is all that is holding a marriage together, then something needs to happen to build a closer bond that will have the strength to hold you together when the times get more difficult.

 

Passion

 

The next type of love is passion. Passion is an emotion-driven love too. Like affinity, passion is often connected with physical attraction, but passion is a much stronger force than just affinity. It is the kind of love that makes the heart beat faster, and makes you go out of your way to be with your object of desire. The Grecian people called it Eros… it is a sensual and physical form of love that usually drives the romance and sexual connection in a marriage. Passion is certainly an important aspect of a good healthy marriage, and for a marriage to be strong their should be a good deal of passion. However passion is not a deep enough love to hold a marriage together on it’s own. Passion can quickly turn to disgust and hate if other areas of your relationship turn sour. Read the biblical account of Amnon and Tamar in (2 Samuel 13.15).

 

Genuine Love

 

The last type of love we are going to talk about today is Genuine Love. Genuine love is radically different than the other types of love. One of the big things that sets genuine love apart is that genuine love is not focused on satisfying its own desires. Genuine love is ‘others focused.’ Genuine love says “I see a need that you have, and it brings me great joy and satisfaction to fulfill that need for you to make your life better.” Genuine love is selfless, it is sacrificial, it is about giving of yourself to make your partners life more fulfilling and more enjoyable. Genuine love seeks no gain, it is not a reciprocal love it is a choice, a decision, a commitment.

 

As I close this article, I am reminded of one of my favorite passages of scripture from the bible. Paul talking in 1 Corinthians chapter 13 gives perhaps the best definition of what genuine love is all about:

 

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

 

Visit http://www.ChristianMarriageRetreats.net to learn more about how to build your relationship on genuine love!

Living With Gods Love

Friday, April 19th, 2013

deerListen! My beloved!
Look! Here he comes,
leaping across the mountains,
bounding over the hills.
My beloved is like a gazelle or a young stag.
Look! There he stands behind our wall,
gazing through the windows,
peering through the lattice.
My beloved spoke and said to me,
“Arise, my darling,
my beautiful one, come with me.
~ Song of Solomon 2(8-10) New International Version

Are you intrigued by the possibility of encountering the glorious love of the Living God in and through the eyes of your spouse?

Are you wishing that your spouse would experience God’s loving touch through you?

What is your desire for intimacy and oneness? Is it incarnate love? It can be. . .

I would like to elaborate a little bit more on last weeks revelation about the Mystery of Marriage and Love that we gleaned from Mike Masons exceptional book “The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle .” In this book, Mike depicts the unfolding mystery of living a loving marriage relationship as follows:

“Marriage is, before it is anything else, an act of contemplation. It is a divine pondering, an exercise in amazement. This is evident from the very start, from the moment a man and a woman first lay eyes on one another and realize they are in love. The whole thing begins with a wondrous looking, a helpless staring, an irresistible compulsion simply to behold. For suddenly there is so much to see! So much is revealed when two people dare to stand in the radiance of one another’s love. And so there is a divine paralysis of adoration: Everything else stops, or at least fades into the background, and love itself takes center stage. Suddenly, for what seems the first time in life, one is presented physically and three-dimensionally with an object that is entirely worthy of one’s wholehearted love and devotion.”

Do you remember that first glance of love and adoration that you experienced when you first laid eyes on your spouse? If you want your marriage to remain strong and vibrant, you need to train yourself not to lose that love and adoration for your spouse. You need to practice it everyday. I know that things come up in life that will try and distract you from the wild and unbridled love and romance that you experienced when your relationship was new and exciting. It is easy to let time and familiarity turn into complacency and you can easily take your relationship for granted if you are not careful. But you need to learn to actively pursue that love and romance everyday. You need to look beyond your spouses faults and shortcomings and recognize them for the beautiful creation and gift from God that they are.

Mr. Masons description of a loving marriage relationship continues like this…

“That is what “falling in love” means. Naturally one cannot believe one’s eyes. That love should come embodied, encased in flesh, walking and talking and loving in return —for that we are never quite prepared. Of course we are  programmed for it, to anticipate and to long for love to enter our lives in this dramatic and personal fashion, but that is not to say we are not bowled over when it actually happens. For we are skeptics by nature, and as much as we may want and even expect miracles to occur, we do not really believe in them. When the miracle of love erupts before our eyes, we cannot help being swept off our feet, dumbfounded, incapacitated for any other action or response except that of love itself: gazing, marveling, contemplating, loving. When this event takes place between a man and a woman, it means that forever afterward these two will be doomed in the situation in which they shall have no business whatsoever in being together at all unless it is first and foremost the business of continuing this same wondrous gazing into one another’s eyes, this helpless contemplation of the mystery of their love. ”

What do you see when you look at your spouse? Are you looking at their faults? Are you looking at their selfish tendencies? Are you looking at the way they get too caught up in their daily tasks and the way they seem to not give you the time and attention that you deserve? Are you looking at the way they seem to nag you about all the things you are not doing right? Or are you looking at them the way that God looks at you? Yes, your spouse has faults. No, they are not perfect and yes, they will disappoint you. But let me ask you. Are you perfect? Do you always do everything right and never sin? Far from it! Yet God looks at you with unconditional love because of what Christ did for us on the cross. Christ makes us look perfect in the eyes of God. Learn to look at your spouse with the same mercy, grace and unconditional forgiveness that God does when He looks at you.

Lets see how Mr. Mason wraps up his advice for how to live a loving marriage relationship…

“…marriage, as simply as it can be defined, is the contemplation of the love of God in and through the form of another human being. It is spellbound fascination with the sheer incarnation of something so purely spiritual.  Without this activity (which is no activity at all, really, but a heavenly stasis, a simple gazing into the depths of love), all the other motions and duties and activities of marriage will be empty. When a marriage loses this, when  it loses the power to stop a couple in their tracks and arrest them into the rest of loving contemplation, when simple love for its own sake no longer holds center stage, then a marriage has lost its heart. To lose this simplest and most obvious thing of all is to lose everything. Marriage is living with glory. It is living with an embodied revelation, with a daily unveiling and unraveling of the mystery of love in such a way that our intense yet shy curiosity about such things is in a constant state of being satisfied, being fed, yet without ever becoming sated. It is living with a mystery that is fully visible, with a flesh-and-blood person who can be touched and held,
questioned and probed and examined and even made love to, to our heart’s content, but who nevertheless proves to be utterly and impenetrably mysterious, infinitely contemplable.”

Mason, Mike (2010-11-03). The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle (p. 42). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The Mystery of Marriage

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Couple in loveThe Bible says without a vision the people perish. Whenever we conduct a Christian marriage retreat we endeavor to help couples understand the vision God has for their marriage. Biblical understanding many times begins in the book of Genesis. Adam’s name in Hebrew is translated ‘man’. God declared, “It is not good that man should be alone” Gen. 2:18.

Some of the questions that we often discus in order to help couples find the answers to their own difficult questions in marriage include…

  • How did Adam’s original encounter with Eve give us a glimpse into the divine meaning of marriage?
  • What is the supernatural dynamic inherent in marriage?
  • Am I desiring to know what my marriage means to God. Am I willing to conform it to that image?

One of the best books on the subject in my opinion is “The Mystery of Marriage” by Mike Mason. In his book, Mike epitomizes the original Genesis encounter as follows:

“We may presume that we cannot know, as Adam did, what it is like to see another human being for the very first time, let alone a person of the opposite sex. Yet in a sense we can, for it is something of this very same primal and unimaginable wonderment that has been preserved and enshrined for us, even today, in the simple and lowly state of holy matrimony.

In marriage a man is given the opportunity of seeing one woman, one person, as he has never seen any other woman or person before. Marriage not only affords as deep a glimpse into the heart and soul of another being as we shall ever have, but it cannot survive without deliberately striving to preserve the spontaneity and freshness of this insight. And how we long for such freshness! There is a giddy taste of it in the experience of falling in love, but only a loving marriage provides the long, deep, steady draught of it that, perhaps without even knowing it, we crave. For secretly we long to perpetuate that one astounding moment in the Garden of Eden. We long to stand in awe of one another, just as Adam and Eve must have done when they first locked gazes. We long for our whole body to tingle with the thrill of knowing that this one fascinating being, this being of a different gender, has been created especially for us and given to us unreservedly for our help, comfort, and joy.

Men and women ache for the heart with which to know this reality, and for the eyes with which to see one another (and therefore themselves) as the astounding miracles that they are. This is what marriage is about. This is the one central experience it seeks to capture, to explore, and to exploit to the fullest. The encounter between the first man and the first woman is the archetypal stuff out of which marriage has been built. Marriage is made of this encounter as the body is made of flesh, and it is the work of marriage continually to return to this encounter, to recapture it afresh and to feed upon it.

Most marriages are invaded sooner or later by the suspicion that the partners may really have very little in common beyond the simple fact that they are both human beings and that they happen to love each other (or at least thought they did at one time). It can be a very great shock for a couple to discover how quickly romantic love is exhausted, how little they really know or understand one another, how deeply estranged it is possible to become from the person you thought you were closest to. Even a taste of such estrangement can be enough to fill a couple with fear and to plunge them into permanent grief over having made such a “poor choice” of partner: Why couldn’t they have chosen someone with whom they had more natural affinity? And yet it is this fundamental apartness, this same sense of nothing else in common but human flesh itself and the primal attraction between man and woman, that is the very strength of a marriage, and the experience to which the relationship must constantly return for nourishment. For it is right here that the mystery of love can best be discerned and known. This is the soil in which love thrives, a rich, black, mysterious loam of total darkness in which nothing else will grow. How else can true love be truly known except when it is separated from everything that is like it, from all forms of natural attraction?

A marriage lives, paradoxically, upon those almost impossible times when it is perfectly clear to the two partners that nothing else but pure sacrificial love can hold them together. Of course, it is almost always the case that the couple has much more in common than they may suppose. But marriage seems to specialize, at times, in radically de-emphasizing the similarities between the partners and wildly exaggerating the points of difference (especially at the superficial level of personality or temperament). But this is so that a couple may come to know one another at the deepest level, at the only level that really matters: bone of bone, flesh of flesh. It is so that the wondrous surprise of the original encounter in the Garden of Eden may take place all over again. It is so that a couple may be reduced to sheer amazement that they are together at all, and that they may know that what has brought them together and what keeps them together is something entirely outside of themselves, something not natural but supernatural, something they themselves cannot control or produce at will. It is so that they may come to know God, the One who is supremely Other, but to whom, nevertheless, all people are profoundly related and bound in love. For the Lord too, in an unfathomable and supernatural manner revealed in the Incarnation, is bone of our bone, flesh of our flesh, even to the point of going down with us into the grave.”

Mason, Mike (2010-11-03). The Mystery of Marriage 20th Anniversary Edition: Meditations on the Miracle (p. 37). The Doubleday Religious Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

Learn more about how to put the magic back in your marriage by attending a Christian marriage retreat more details can be found here