by Della Bassman
“Think for a moment of your heart as a greenhouse…and your heart, like a greenhouse, has to be managed. Consider for a moment your thoughts as seed. Some thoughts become flowers, others become weeds. Sow seeds of hope & enjoy optimism. Sow seeds of doubt & expect insecurity.” ~ Max Lucado, A Heart Like Jesus
Our hearts are God’s greenhouse. They are vulnerable gardens where we either plant roots of resentment & bushes of bitterness or we can plant seeds of fruit : love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). We choose whether we sow (and reap) to our sinful flesh or to the Spirit. The first leads to death, the other leads to life. Which will we choose in marriage?
In the early days of our marriage, I chose bitterness. For 19 years of marriage, our home was a war zone and our marriage was hell. Our home was ruled by my husband’s anger and emotional abuse and my fear.
…But God was faithful and showed me the thorns of my bitterness. I was reaping a deadly harvest of withdrawal, distrust, vengeance, and depression. Bitterness is a root that pollutes and taints every relationship and situation. God revealed a better way to me in Ephesians 4:31-32--Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. He gave me my marital marching orders in Romans 12:21--do not be overcome by evil (even in my house) but overcome evil with His good. I could do positive things like worship, speak truth in love, & obey in spite of my feelings.
God provided me with bitterness blockers—His own plan to kill my bitter roots! We have already received it from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself at salvation. It is GRACE!
• I admitted my poisonous bitterness and confessed it to God.
• With His spade of grace and the gospel, I dug up my bitter roots.
• I forgave out of God’s economy, not mine.
• I fertilized the gaping hole with God’s mercy.
• I remembered I’m a sinner in need of God’s grace too.
• I watered liberally with prayer (and tears).
God redeemed our barren, poisonous marriage into a garden of Grace. Don’t keep mowing over those thorns and thistles of bitterness with denial. They’ll only grow stronger. Learn to manage your heart and discover that God is more than enough for us in our hard marriages!
by Barb Mulvey
Marriage! Source of joy, source of heartache. When my husband and I do marriage counseling we are never surprised by the recurring themes we hear when we meet with people. We said exactly the same things to our counselors. I was a finger pointer; he was an evader. I got angry; he got quiet. I wanted more; he just wanted to survive. I demanded, yelled and pouted; he retreated, hid and blame shifted. What a mess! No wonder we blew up our marriage at 10 years. But God, in His mercy, led me to good Biblical help and slowly, after a two year separation we began to restore our marriage. This year we will celebrate 42 years. God truly is amazing! Was it easy? No! Was it worth it? Yes! We all struggle with wrong expectations in our marriage. We want the other person to be our God or we want to be their God. Jim and I only found true joy when we realized that there is a God and we are not Him!
For years I wanted Jim to be my everything. When he didn’t deliver I didn’t handle it well. I wanted Jim to be my knight in shining armor. Now I know that I do have a knight in shining armor. His name is Jesus! Now I know there is a better way. I often tell women this, “God is the cake, Jim is the icing.” What do I mean by that? God really is enough. He fills my soul. He pours His love into my heart. God is the cake. Jim is the icing. Sometimes I have cake without icing. It’s still cake! It still tastes great. It’s great when Jim meets my needs. It’s great when we have a good conversation or a sweet time together. But if he doesn’t, I still have my cake. Rather than looking horizontally for Jim to be my everything, I look vertically, I look up. God truly is my everything. He is enough! My relationship with Him is strong. He listens! He hears my every thought. He loves me! He is always available, never too tired or too distracted. Isn’t that what you yearn for?
Are you struggling in your marriage? Do you wish there was some help? I want to invite you to a seminar on Saturday February 23rd from 9am to noon at North Church in Albuquerque. The cost is only $10 per couple which includes childcare. Singles are $5 each. The seminar title is Marriage Myth busters. There will be skits, humor, teaching from the Bible. If you are interested in going click on this link. Jim and I will be teaching some of the lessons we learned as we rebuilt our relationship.
What are some of the cultural myths we will be tackling? “If my spouse loved me they would make me happy”, “I need to protect my heart so I don’t get hurt again”, “I am in such a bad marriage, wouldn’t it be best just to give up on it and get a divorce?” “My spouse should be more like me, think like me, like what I like. Only then will there be harmony in the home.” If you have heard yourself say or think these things, or if you have heard others, come to the seminar! Bring your friends! I would love to see you there.
by Amy Meyer Allen www.aredeemedmarriage.com
When God gave me the vision for The REAL Conference my first reaction was no thanks! But eventually because of my love for Him and thankfulness for Him saving my marriage, I said yes. It hasn't been an easy journey, but it is fulfilling because of how He is using the conference to help others and give them the same hope He has given me.
I want to share a video which tells the story of how God redeemed my marriage. But first, I want to give the back story of how this video came to be. It proves that God can meet us exactly where we are and that nothing is too hard for Him.
My husband, Tim, and I had filed for divorce just before our 8th wedding anniversary. However, during our six month separation, God held back the divorce papers long enough to bring us both to a place where we accepted Him as Lord of our lives and marriage. Shortly after getting back together, we learned we were moving to Thailand for two years because of Tim's job. Having Tim just come out of a sex addiction and being sent to the sex capital of the world was very scary for both of us! But God used it to bring us closer to Him and each other.
Once when I was on a trip to Washington D.C., I met a woman who worked for The Christian Broadcast Network (CBN) as an editor. When she heard my story, she asked if Tim and I would consider being on a program called the 700Club to share our testimony. I was all for it, but understandably, Tim was not. Over the next seven years, she contacted me at least once a year to ask if we were ready to share our story. Finally in 2011 after we had moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, she asked me again. Thinking Tim would say no as usual, he surprised me by saying, “Let me pray about it.” In the meantime, I found out the program was sending a producer to film us in our home! When I told Tim this news, much to my surprise he said, “Ok I'll do it.”
The reason why this is so remarkable is because after the filming, Tim confessed to me that he had been talking to God about this interview. He had given God two conditions. Number 1: He would not go to Virginia where the 700Club is located. (This was because years before he had been to their studio with a friend who was being interviewed on their show and found it to be too much like what he called a “Christian Disneyland.”) and Number 2: He would not spend any of his own money (i.e. fly to Virginia). So when I told Tim the producers were coming to us, he knew God had met his exact conditions and he couldn't say no!
The other incredible outcome of this situation was that after we had filmed, God kept bringing a verse to my mind from Genesis. It had to do with Joseph – the very story God had used in my life when Tim and I were separated to give me hope and show me that God not only allows trials in our lives but He uses them for His good purposes. Part of the verse I already knew by heart, “What you (Joseph's brothers who sold him into slavery) meant for evil, God meant for good.” When I looked up Genesis 50:20 that day, the last phrase jumped off the page “... and for the saving of many lives.” I pondered why this was important until our producer called us about a week after our segment had first aired on the 700Club. He said hundreds of people called in for prayer, but in particular 619 had called in for salvation! 619 people came to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior because of our story! The reason I will never forget that number is because my Mom's birthday is June 19 (619) and she had been faithfully praying for us for years.
I hope this little pre-story encourages you to say “Yes!” to God and let Him do in and through you whatever He calls you to. I promise your life will be more exciting and more fulfilling than you could ever imagine!