Jan 20 2010

Love Dare - Day 15

Love is Honorable

 

Live with your wives in an understanding way … and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life.  – 1 Peter 3:7

 

There are certain words in our language that have powerful meanings.  Whenever these words are used, an air of respect is associated with them.  These words never lose their timeless quality, class, and dignity.  One of these will be our focus for today.  It is the word honor.

 

To honor someone means to give them respect and high esteem, to treat them as being special and of great worth. When you speak to them, you keep your language clean and understandable. You are courteous and polite.  When they speak to you, you take them seriously, giving their words weight and significance.  When they ask you to do something, you accommodate them if at all possible, simply out of respect for who they are. 

 

The Bible tells us to “honor” our father and mother, as well as those in authority.  It is a call to acknowledge the position or value of someone else.  Honor is a noble word.

 

This is especially true in marriage.  Honoring your mate means giving him or her your full attention, not talking to them from behind a newspaper or with one eye on the television. When decisions are being made that affect both of you or your whole family, you give your mate’s voice and opinion equal influence in your mind.  You honor what they have to say.  They matter – and because of the way you treat them, they should know it.

 

But there’s another word that calls us to a higher place, a word that isn’t often equated with marriage, though its relevance cannot be understated.  It’s a word that actually forms the basis for honor – the very reason why we give respect and high regard to our husband or wife.  That word is holy.

 

To say to your mate should be “holy” to you doesn’t mean that he or she is perfect. Holiness means they are set apart for a higher purpose – no longer common or everyday but special and unique.  A person who has become holy to you has a place no one can rival in your heart.  He or she is sacred to you, a person to be honored, praised, and defended.

 

A bride treats her wedding dress this way.  After wearing it on her special day, she covers and protects it, then sets it apart from everything else in her closet. You won’t catch her in it when she’s working in the yard or going out on the town.  Her wedding dress has value all its own. In this way, it is holy and sacred to her.

 

When two people marry, each spouse becomes “holy” to each other by way of “holy matrimony.”  This means no other person in the whole world is supposed to enjoy this level of commitment and endearment from you. Your relationship is like no other.  Your share physical intimacy with only her, only him.  You establish a home with this person.  You bear your children with this person.  Your heart, your possessions, your life itself is to be wrapped up in the uncommon bond you share with this one in individual.

 

Is that the way it is in your marriage?  Would your mate say you honor and respect them?  Do you consider them set apart and highly valued?  Holy?

 

Perhaps you don’t feel this way and maybe for good reason.  Perhaps you wish some outsider could see the level of disrespect you get from your wife or husband – someone who would make your mate feel embarrassed to be exposed for who they really are behind closed doors.

 

But that’s not the issue with love.  Love honors even when it’s rejected.  Love treats its beloved as special and sacred even when an ungrateful attitude is all you get in return.

 

It’s marvelous, of course, when a husband and wife are joined in this purpose, when they’re following the biblical command to be “devoted to one another” in love, when they’re giving “preference to one another in honor” (Romans 12:10).  “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure” (Hebrews 13:4 NIV).

 

But when your attempts at honor go unreciprocated, you are to give honor just the same.  That’s what love dares to do – to say, “Of all the relationships I have, I will value ours the most.  Of all the things I’m willing to sacrifice, I will sacrifice the most for you. With all your failures, sins, mistakes, and faults – past and present – I will choose to love and honor you.”  That’s how you create an atmosphere for love to be rekindled.  That’s how you create an atmosphere for love to be rekindled.  That’s how you lead your heart to truly love your mate again.  And that’s the beauty of honor.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine.  It may be holding the door for her.  It might be putting his clothes away for him.  It may be the way you listen and speak in your communication.  Show your mate that he or she is highly esteemed in your eyes.

 

 

I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant.  (Jeremiah 30:19)

 

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.

 

 

 

 

Jan 19 2010

Love Dare - Day 14

Love Takes Delight

 

Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life. – Ecclesiastes 9:9 HCSB

 

One of the most important things you should learn on your Love Dare journey is that you should not just follow your heart.  You should lead it.  You don’t let your feelings and emotions do the driving.  You put them in the back seat and tell them where you’re going.

 

In your marriage relationship, you won’t always feel like loving.  It is unrealistic for your heart to constantly thrill as the thought of spending every moment with your spouse.  Nobody can maintain a burning desire for togetherness just one feelings alone.  But it’s also difficult to love someone only out of obligation.

 

A newlywed takes delight in the one they now call their spouse.  Their love is fresh and young, and the hopes for a romantic future linger in their hearts.  However, there is something just as powerful as that fresh, new love.  It comes from the decision to delight in your spouse and to love him or her no matter how long you’ve been married.  In other words, love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love that feels like loving.  In many ways, it’s a truer love because it has its eyes wide open.

 

Left to ourselves, we’ll always lean toward being disapproving of one another.  She’ll get on your nerves.  He’ll aggravate you.  But our days are too short to waste in bickering over pretty things.  Life is too fleeting for that.

 

Instead, it’s time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate.  Enjoy your spouse.  Take her hand and seek her companionship. Desire his conversation.  Remember why you fell in love with her personality.  Accept this person – quirks and all – and welcome him or her back into your heart.

 

Again, you get to choose what you treasure.  It’s not like you’re born with certain pre-sets and preferences you’re destined to operate from.  If you’re irritable, it’s because you choose to be.  If you can’t function without a clean house, it’s because you’ve decided no other way will do.  If you pick at your mate more than you praise them, it’s because you’ve allowed your heart to be selfish.  You’ve led yourself into criticism.

 

So now it’s time to lead your heart back out.  It’s time to learn to delight in your spouse again, then to watch your heart actually start enjoying who they are.

 

It may surprise you to know that the Bible contains many romantic love stories, none more blatant and provocative than all eight chapters from the Song of Solomon.  Listen to the way these two lovers take pleasure in one another in this poetic book …

 

The woman: “Like an apple tree among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved among the young men.  In his shade I took great delight and sat down, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.  He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love” (Song of Solomon 2:3-4).

 

The man: “Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, and come along!  O my dove, in the clefts of the rock, in the secret place of the steep pathway, let me see your form, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your form is lovely” (Song of Solomon 2:13-14).

 

Too sappy?  Too mushy? Not for those who lead their heart to delight in their beloved – even when the new wears off, even when she’s wearing rollers in her hair, even when his hair is falling out.  It’s time to remember why you once fell in love.  To laugh again.  To flirt again.  To dream again.  Delightfully.

 

Today’s dare may be directing you to a real and radical change of heart.  For some, the move toward delight may be only a small step away.  For others, it may require a giant leap from ongoing disgust.

 

But if you’ve been delighted before – which you were when you married – you can be delighted again.  Even if it’s been a long time.  Even if a whole lot has happened to change your perceptions.

 

The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you’ve promised yourself forever.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse.  Do something he or she would love to do or a project they’d really like to work on.  Just to be together.

 

 

Give me your heart … and let your eyes delight in my ways.  (Proverbs 23:26)

 

 

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.

Jan 18 2010

Love Dare - Day 13

Love Fights Fair

 

If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. – Mark 3:25

 

 

Like it or not, conflict in marriage is simply inevitable.  When you tied the knot as bride and groom, you joined not only your hopes and dreams but also your hurts, fears, imperfections, and emotional baggage.  From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another, unpleasantly discovering how sinful and selfish each of you could be.

 

Pretty soon your mate started to slip off your lofty pedestal, and you off of theirs.  The forced closeness of marriage began stripping away your public facades, exposing your private problems and secret habits.  Welcome to fallen humanity.

 

At the same time, the storms of life began testing and revealing what you’re really made of. Work demands, health issues, in-law arguments, and financial needs flared up in varying degrees, adding pressure and heat to the relationship.  This sets the stage for disagreements to break out between the two of you.  You argued and fought. You hurt.  You experienced conflict.  But you are not alone.

 

Every couple goes through it.  It’s par for the course.  But not every couple survives it.

 

So don’t think living out today’s dare will drive all conflict from your marriage.  Instead, this is about dealing with conflict in such a way that you come out healthier on the other side.

 

Both of you.  Together.

 

The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you’ll ever do (or ever have done) to your marriage will most likely occur in the thick of conflict.  That’s because this is when your pride is strongest.  Your anger is hottest.  You’re the most selfish and judgmental.  Your words contain the most venom.  You make the worst decisions.  A great marriage on Monday can start driving off the cliff on Tuesday if unbridled conflict takes over and neither of you has your foot on the brakes.

 

But love steps in and changes things.  Love reminds you that your marriage is too valuable to allow it to self-destruct, and that your love for your spouse is more important than whatever you’re fighting about.  Love helps you install air bags and to set up guardrails in your relationship.  It reminds you that conflict can actually be turned around for good.  Married couples who learn to work through conflict tend to be closer, more trusting, more intimate, and enjoy a much deeper connection afterwards.

 

But how?  The wisest way is to learn to fight clean by establishing healthy rules of engagement.  If you don’t have guidelines for how you’ll approach hot topics, you won’t stay in bounds when the action heats up.

 

Basically there are two types of boundaries for dealing with conflict: “we” boundaries and “me” boundaries.

 

“We” boundaries are rules you both agree on beforehand, rules that apply during any fight or altercation.  And each of you has the right to gently but directly enforce them if these rules are violated.  These could include:

1.     We will never mention divorce.

2.     We will not bring up old, unrelated items from the past.

3.     We will never fight in public or in front of our children.

4.     We will call a “time out” if conflict escalates to a damaging level.

5.     We will never touch one another in a harmful way.

6.     We will never go to bed angry with one another.

7.     Failure is not an option.  Whatever it takes, we will work this out.

 

“Me” boundaries are rules you personally practice on your own.  Here are some of the most effective examples:

1.     I will listen first before speaking.  “Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger” (James 1:19).

2.     I will deal with my own issues up-front.  “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3)

3.     I will speak gently and keep my voice down.  “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1).

 

Fighting fair means changing your weapons.  Disagreeing with dignity.  It should result in building a bridge instead of burning one down.  Remember, love is not a fight, but it is always worth fighting for.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement.  If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to “fight” by.  Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs.

 

 

Be of the same mind toward one another.  (Romans 12:16)

 

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.

 

Jan 17 2010

Love Dare - Day 12

Love Lets the Other Win

 

Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests others.  – Philippians 2:4

 

If you were asked to name three areas where you and your spouse disagree, you’d likely be able to do it without thinking very hard.  You might even be able to produce a top ten list if given a few more minutes.  And sadly, unless someone at your house starts doing some giving in, these same issues are going to keep popping up between you and your mate.

 

Unfortunately, stubbornness comes as standard feature on both husband and wife models.  Defending your rights and opinions is a foundational part of your nature and make-up.  It’s detrimental, though, inside a marriage relationship, and it steals away time and productivity.  It can also cause great frustration for both of you.

 

Granted, being stubborn is not always bad.  Some things are worth standing up for and protecting.  Our priorities, morals, and obedience to God should be guarded with great effort.  But too often we debate over piddling things, like the color of wall paint or the choice of restaurants.

 

Other times, of course, the stakes are much higher.  One of you would like more children; the other doesn’t.  One of you wants to vacation with your extended family; the other doesn’t.  One of you wants to vacation with your extended family; the other doesn’t.  One of you prefers home-schooling your kids; the other doesn’t.  One of you thinks it’s time for marriage counseling or to get more involved in a church, while the other doesn’t.

 

Though these issues may not crop up every day, they keep resurfacing and don’t really go away.  You never seem to get any closer to a resolution or compromise.  The heels just keep digging in.  It’s like driving with parking brake on.

 

There’s only one way to get beyond stalemates like these, and that’s by finding a word that’s the opposite of stubbornness – a word we first met back while discussing kindness.  That word is “willing.”  It’s an attitude and spirit of cooperation that should permeate our conversations.  It’s like a palm tree by the ocean that endures the greatest winds because it knows how to gracefully bend.  And the one best example of it is Jesus Christ, as described in Philippians 2.  Follow the progression of His selfless love …

 

As God, He had every right to refuse becoming a man but yielded and did – because He was willing.  He had the right to be served by all mankind but came to serve us instead.  He had the right to live in peace and safety but willingly laid down His life for our sins.  He was even willing to endure the grueling torture of the cross.  He loved, cooperated, and was willing to do His Father’s will instead of His own.

 

In light of this amazing testimony, the Bible applies to us a one-sentence summary statement: “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5) – the attitude of willingness, flexibility, and humble submission.  It means laying down for the good of others what you have the right to claim for yourself.

 

All it takes for your present arguments to continue is for both of you to stay entrenched and unbending.  But the very moment one of you says, “I’m willing to go your way on this one,” the argument will be over.  And though the follow-through may cost you some pride and discomfort, you have made a loving, lasting investment in your marriage.

 

“Yes, but then I’ll look foolish.  “I’ll lose the fight.  I’ll lose control.”  You’ve already looked foolish by being bullheaded and refusing to listen.  You’ve already lost the fight by making this issue more important than your marriage and your spouse’s sense of worth.  You may have already lost emotional control by saying things that got personal and hurt your mate.

 

The wise and loving thing to do is to start approaching your disagreements with a willingness to not always insist on your own way.  That’s not to say your mate is necessarily right or being wise about a matter, but you are choosing to give strong consideration to their preference as a way of valuing them.

 

Love’s best advice comes from the Bible, which says, “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield” (James 3:17 NKJV).  Instead of treating your wife or husband like an enemy or someone to be guarded against, start by treating them as your closest, most honored friend.  Give their words full weight.

 

No, you won’t always see eye-to-eye.  You’re not supposed to be carbon copies of each other.  If you were, one of you would be unnecessary.  Two people who always share the same opinions and perspectives won’t have any balance or flavor to enhance the relationship.  Rather, your differences are for listening to and learning from.

 

Are you willing to bend to demonstrate love to your spouse?  Or are you refusing to give in because of pride?  If it doesn’t matter in the long run – especially in eternity – then give up your rights and choose to honor the one you love.  It will be good for you and good for your marriage.

 

 

Today’s Dare

 

Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse.  Tell them you are putting their preference first.

 

 

If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.  (Romans 12:18)

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.