Feb 11 2010

Love Dare - Day 37

Love Agrees in Prayer

 

If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by May Father.  – Matthew 18:19

 

If someone told you that by changing one thing about your marriage, you could guarantee with near 100 percent assurance that your life together would significantly improve, you would at least want to know what it was.  And for many godly couples, that “one thing” is the daily practice of praying together.

 

To someone who tends to devalue spiritual matters, this sounds fairly ridiculous.  And if told that shared prayer is a key ingredient in marital longevity and leads to a heightened sense of sexual intimacy, they would think you had really gone too far. But the unity that grows between a man and woman who regularly pray together forms an intense and powerful connection.  Within the sanctuary of your marriage, praying together can work wonders on every level of your relationship.

 

When you were joined together as husband and wife, God gave you a wedding gift – a permanent prayer partner for life.  When you need wisdom on a certain decision, you and your prayer partner can seek God together for the answer.  When you’re struggling with your own fears and insecurities, your prayer partner can hold your hand and intercede on your behalf.  When you and your spouse are not getting along and can’t get past a particular argument or sticking point, you can call a time out, drop your weapons, and go with your partner into emergency prayer.  It should become your automatic reflex action when you don’t know what else to do.

 

It’s hard to stay angry long with someone for whom you’re praying.  It’s hard not to back down when you’re hearing your mate humbly cry out to God and beg Him for mercy in the midst of your heated crisis.  In prayer, two people remember that God has made them one.  And in the grip of His uniting presence, disharmony blends into beauty.

 

Praying for your spouse leads your heart to care more deeply about them.  But more importantly, God is pleased when He sees you both humbling yourselves and seeking His face together.  His blessing falls on you when you agree in prayer.

 

The word Jesus used when He talked about “agreeing” in prayer has the idea of harmonic symphony. Two separate notes, played one at a time, sound different.  They’re opposed to each other.  But play them at the same time – in agreement – and they can create a pleasing sense of harmony.  Together they give a fuller, more complete sound than either of them can make on its own.

 

Agreeing in prayer is like that – even in the midst of disagreeing.  It pulls you both back toward your real center.  It places you on common ground, face-to-face before the Father.  It restores harmony in the midst of contention.

 

The church – which in Scripture has a marriage connotation with Christ – can sometimes be a place where conflict rules.  The disharmony that can flare up over various matters can derail the church from its mission and disrupt the free flow of worship and unity.  At times godly church leaders will see what is taking place, break off discussions, and call the people of God to prayer.  Instead of continuing the discord and allowing more feelings to be hurt, they will seek unity by turning their hearts back to God and appealing to Him for help.

 

The same thing happens in our homes when there is an intervention of prayer, even at high points of disagreement.  It stops the bleeding.  It quiets the loud voices.  It pauses you as you realize whose presence you’re in.

 

But prayer is for a lot more than breaking up fights.  Prayer is a privilege to be enjoyed on a consistent, daily basis.  When you know that prayer time awaits you before going to bed, it will change the way you spend your evening.  Even if your prayers together are typically short and to the point, this will become a standing appointment that you can orbit your day around, keeping God in the middle of everything.

 

It’s true that beginning a habit like this can initially feel awkward and uncomfortable.  Anything this powerful will surprise you with its weight and responsibility when you actually try doing it.  But bear in mind that God wants you to engage with Him – invites you, in fact – and He will grow you as you take it seriously and push past those times when you don’t know what to say.

 

You’ll look back at this common thread that ran through everything from average Mondays to major decisions and be so thankful for this “one thing” that changed everything.  This is one area where it’s imperative that you agree to agree.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together.  Talk about the best time to do this -- whether it’s in the morning, your lunch hour, or before bedtime.  Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements, and needs before the Lord.  Don’t forget to thank Him for His provision and blessing.  Even if your spouse refuses to do this, resolve to spend this daily time in prayer yourself.

 

In the morning my prayer comes before You. (Psalm 88:13)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

Feb 10 2010

Love Dare - Day 36

Love is God’s Word

 

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  – Psalm 119:105

 

 

For some people, the Bible seems just too big to understand.  It’s like an impossible challenge.  They don’t know where or how to begin.  But as a Christian, you’re not left alone to try grasping the major themes and deep meanings of the Bible.  The Holy Spirit, who now lives in your heart by the way of salvation, is an illuminator of truth.  “For the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).  And because of His internal lamp, the Scriptures are now yours to read, absorb, comprehend, and live by.

 

But first, you’ve got to commit to do it.

 

Be in it.  If this is not already a habit of yours, now is the time to begin reading a portion of the Bible every day.  Ideally, read it together as husband and wife – in the morning, perhaps, or before bed.  Be like the writer of Psalm 119, who could say, “With all my heart I have sought You … Your word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Psalm 119:10-11).

 

Those who practice a consistent pattern of reading the Bible soon discover it to be “more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb” (Psalm 19:10).

 

Stay under it.  You’re right; the Bible can be deep and challenging.  That’s why it’s so important to be part of a church where the Word is faithfully taught and preached.  By hearing it explained in sermons and Bible study classes, you’ll get a broader, more balanced view of what God is saying through His Word.  You’ll also get to join with others who are on the same journey you are, wanting to be fed by the truths of Scripture. “Continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Timothy 3:14).

 

Live it.  Unlike most other books, which are only designed to be read and digested, the Bible is a living book.  It lives because the Holy Spirit still resonates within its words.  It lives because, unlike the ancient writings of other religions, its Author is still alive.  And it lives because it becomes a part of who you are, how you think, and what you do.  “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers” (James 1:22).

 

Jesus talked about people who build their lives on sand – their own logic, their best guesses, the latest reasoning.  When the storms of life begin to blow (which they always will), foundations of sand will only result in total disaster.  Their houses may light up and look nice for a while, but they are tragedies waiting to happen.  Ultimately they collapse.

 

But Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who builds on the rock.  The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock” (Matthew 7:24-25).  When your home is founded on the rock of God’s unchanging Word, it is insured against destruction.

 

That’s because God has the right plan for everything, and He’s revealed these plans in His Word.  They’re right there for anyone who will read it and apply it.

 

God has a plan for the way you handle your money.  A plan for the way you raise your children.  A plan for the way you treat your body.  A plan for the way you spend your time.  A plan for the way you handle conflict.  Isn’t it just like your Maker to know exactly what you need?

 

If being a regular Bible reader is new for you, you’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll begin thinking differently and more eternally.  And if you are serious about establishing strategies for life based on God’s way of doing things, He will guide you to make connections between what you’re reading and how it applies.  It’s an enlightening journey with discoveries to be made all the time.

 

Every aspect of your life that you submit to, God’s principles will grow stronger and more long-lasting over time.  But any part you withhold from Him, choosing instead to try your own hand at it, will weaken and eventually fail when the storms of life hit you.  It may, in fact, be the one area that hastens the downfall of your home and marriage.

 

Wise couples build their houses on the rock of God’s Word.  They’ve seen what sand can do.  They know how it feels when their footing gets soft and the foundation gives way.  That’s why must determine to build your life and marriage on the solid rock of the Bible, and then you can plan on a stronger future – no matter how bad the storms get.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Commit to reading the Bible every day.  Find a devotional book or other resource that will give you some guidance.  If your spouse is open to it, see if they will commit to daily Bible reading with you.  Begin submitting each area of your life to its guidance and start building on the rock.

 

 

Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction. (Romans 15:4)

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

Feb 09 2010

Love Dare - Day 35

Love is Accountable

 

Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.  – Proverbs 15:22

 

Mighty sequoia trees tower hundreds of feet in the air and can withstand intense environmental pressures.  Lightning can strike them, fierce winds can blow, and forest fires can rage around them.  But the sequoia endures, standing firm, only growing stronger through the trials.

 

One of the secrets to the strength of this giant tree is what goes on below the surface.  Unlike many trees, they reach out and interlock their roots with the sequoias around them.  Each becomes empowered and reinforced by the strength of each others.

 

The secret to the sequoia is also the key to maintaining a strong, healthy marriage.  A couple that faces problems alone is more likely to fall apart during rough times.  However, the ones who interlock their lives in a network of other strong marriages radically increase their chances of surviving the fiercest of storms.  It is crucial that a husband and wife pursue godly advice, healthy friendships, and experienced mentors.

 

Everyone needs wise counsel throughout life.  Wise people constantly seek it and gladly receive it.  Fools never ask for it and then ignore it when it’s given to them.

 

As the Bible so clearly explains, “The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel” (Proverbs 12:15).

 

Gaining wise counsel is like having a detailed road map and a personal guide while traveling on a long, challenging journey.  It can be the difference between continual success or the destruction of another marriage.  It is vital that you invite strong couples to share the wisdom they have gained through their own successes and failures.

 

Why waste years of your life learning painful lessons when you could discover those same truths during a few hours of wise counsel?  Why not cross the bridges others have built?  Wisdom is more valuable than gold.  Not receiving it is like letting priceless coins pass through your fingers.

 

Good marriage mentors warn you before you make a bad decision.  They encourage you when you are ready to give up.  And they cheer you on as you reach new levels of intimacy in your marriage.

 

Do you have an older couple or a friend or a friend of the same gender you can turn to for good advice, for prayer support, and for regular accountability checkups?  Do you have someone in your life who shoots straight with you?

 

You and your spouse need these types of friends and mentors on a consistent basis.  The Bible says, “Encourage one another day after day … so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13).  Too often we can isolate ourselves from others.  If we are not careful, we could push away the people who love us the most.

 

You must guard yourself against the wrong influencers.  Everyone has an opinion and some people will encourage you to act selfishly and leave your mate in order to pursue your own happiness.  Be careful about listening to advice from people who don’t have a good marriage themselves.

 

If your marriage is hanging by a thread or already heading for a divorce, then you need to stop everything and pursue solid counseling as quickly as possible. Call a pastor, a Bible-believing counselor, or a marriage ministry today.  As awkward as it may initially be to open up your life to a stranger, your marriage is worth every second spent and every sacrifice you will make for it.  Even if your marriage is fairly stable, you’re in no less need of honest, open mentors – people who can put wind in your sails and make your marriage even better.

 

How do you pick a good mentor?  You look for a person who has the kind of marriage you want.  You look for a person whose heart for Christ comes first before everything else.  You look for someone who doesn’t live by his or her opinions but by the unchanging Word of God.  And more times than not, this person will likely be delighted you asked for help.  Start praying for God to send this person into your life.  Then pick a time to meet and talk.

 

If this doesn’t sound too important to you, it would be a good idea to ask yourself why.  Do you have something to hide?  Are you afraid you will be embarrassed?  Do you think your marriage is exempt from needing outside help?  Does diving into a river of positive influence not appeal to you?  Don’t be the captain of another Titanic divorce by ignoring the warning signs around you when you could have been helped.

 

Here’s an important reminder from Scripture: “Each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).  This appointment is unbreakable.  And though we’re all ultimately responsible for the way we approach it, we can surely stand as much help as others can give.  It might just be the relational influence that takes your marriage from mediocre to amazing.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Find a marriage mentor – someone who is a strong Christian and who will be honest and loving with you.  If you feel that counseling is needed, then take the first step to set up an appointment.  During this process, ask God to direct your decisions and discernment.

 

In abundance of counselors there is victory.  (Proverbs 11:14)

 

 

Click here to buy a copy of The Love Dare book.  

Click here for a free online journal for the full 40 day challenge.

 

Material taken from The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick, copyright © 2009 by B&H Publishing Group. Used by permission.  Unauthorized reproduction in any format is strictly prohibited by law.

 

 

 

Feb 08 2010

Google Superbowl Ad

Here's the sweet ad I was talking about, from the Super Bowl. The best ads are about life and make you feel something. How many times have you lived out your life searching for stuff, kinda like this ad:) blessings, Lisa
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