My wife and I attended the Focus on Marriage Simulcast on Saturday. It was wonderful. The progression of the day was to really dig into the issues behind having a right heart for our marriage and God’s perspective on our hearts, then later in the day to some more practical aspects.
Gary Thomas has written a book called “Sacred Marriage” where he asks the question, “What if God designed marriage not to make us happy, but to make us holy?” Really gets you thinking. He emphasized that we have to have the “heart to” right in our marriage before any “how to’s” will work. He also reminded us that marriage is not about “being young together” but “growing old together.”
One Scripture he emphasized was from James where he says that we all “stumble in many ways.” Just a good reminder that if you put a man “who stumbles in many ways” together with a woman “who stumbles in many ways” and add some children who “stumble in many ways” you are going to have some problems. That is just life in this world – but that is where love and forgiveness come in to equation.
Another big picture idea he discussed was to think about whether we base our happiness in marriage on being a “God-centered spouse” or a “Spouse-centered spouse.” If we look to our spouse for our ultimate happiness we will be disappointed because they will stumble in many ways, however if we look to God for our ultimate happiness and joy, then we can love our spouse with His love, because He fills the holes in us that our spouse can’t.
Another concept Gary Thomas reminded us of is that God is the Father of our spouse, which makes God our Father-in-Law. We need to treat our spouse with respect and honor just like we would if we really wanted to honor our father-in-law.
Beth Moore shared a lot about her own ups and downs in marriage. I love listening to Beth because she is so authentic and so grounded in Scripture and her love for Christ shines through. I got the idea that there had been many times she just wanted to give up on her marriage, but she didn’t. One of the most touching things she said was about how at the marriage of each of her children and the birth of one of her grandchildren, she had looked at her husband and been so thankful to God that she had not given up on her marriage.
I wish I had a YouTube clip of her pleading with people to not give up on their marriages that I could play for couples who want to give it all up. She says what I often want to say, but don’t seem to know how to with the love and passion that she does.
One concept she brought up was about fighting in marriage. She said that sometimes we need a good fight in our marriages, but it needs to be a fight for our marriage, not against our spouse. Another thing that struck me was that Beth said that if any woman ever tried to take her husband from her, she would give that woman a fight because she would not let her man go. I love that attitude.
Del Tackett. Well, I am getting older. I didn’t take a note on what he said, and now I can’t remember his points. Maybe I was hungry for lunch and didn’t have enough energy going to my brain cells. 🙂
Gary Smalley spoke in the afternoon. One key point that he made was that for 40 some years he had tried to change his wife with no luck. He finally gave up, turned her over to God and then focused on learning how to love God and her. When he focused more on himself and what God wanted him to do, then he began seeing changes in her also.
His key point was that we are helpless without Christ, and the key way to get Christ’s power is to admit our helplessness, ask for His help, and then memorize and speak out Scriptures. As we consistently speak Scriptures God will change our hearts. He also mentioned that most of our stress in life comes from trying constantly to meet the expectations of the world.
Last but not least was John Trent speaking about the 2-degree change. His point was that often we get convicted of something or inspired by a speaker, and then try to turn 180 degrees on a dime, get overwhelmed and give up.
He pointed out that we can make a huge difference in our life if we work on things two degrees at a time. Take small steps in various areas of your lives, do them consistently, and then do more, and you can have big changes. I was encouraged because I can see how we have already been implementing some small changes in our lives, and seeing positive effects so that inspires me to keep on and make some more changes.