Category Archives: Obedience

Time to Dust Off Your Marriage?

couples 6

Reminders are a way of providing a tune-up in order to keep our marriage in the appropriate priority with all the things that compete for our attention in this crazy world.

Let’s consider some key elements about marriage that we may have forgotten.  Here are a few that help us to demonstrate the practice of love in our relationship:

A key component in revitalizing your marriage is the understanding that your marriage is not about you. Realize that God has created uniqueness in both of you. The more you come to accept and love the differences between the two of you, the sooner you can learn to let go of the little stuff that the enemy loves to use to distract you from the goal.  The goal of every couple should be to live for the other, to live for God. That doesn’t mean you sacrifice your individuality; it simply means that consideration for what is most beneficial to your relationship will outweigh what is solely beneficial to you individually. From that you will begin to reap increasing dividends.

Creating a richer, fuller marriage begins with a decision: the decision to die to oneself.  This is not only in relationship to God, but also in our relationship to one another.  Whether our dysfunction stems from attitudes, behaviors, past experiences, or simply choosing to believe the lies of the enemy, it is essential that we step out of ourselves and move into alignment with our creator.  As you continue on your journey of marriage, begin to step out of the shame and guilt of the past. No matter what you may have done, no matter what you may have partaken in, you are not out of redemption’s grasp.

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.     – Colossians 1:13-14

Be comforted; your past doesn’t have to be a blueprint for your future. The time to start living intentionally is right now. Let your marriage be an example that glorifies God. The benefits of such a decision are countless, not just to you, but to your children, future generations, and everyone you come into contact with.

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.      – 1 Peter 4:8-11

Perhaps it’s time to assess yourself?  That’s not a bad thing; we should ALL do it from time to time.  Maybe it’s time to dust off some of these elements and place them front and center in your life so that your marriage will to an extent that you never thought possible.  Marriage is work, hard work, but some of the most rewarding work you will ever do.  Just a thought…

Be blessed as you continue your marital journey!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Love, Obedience, Priorities, selflessness, Shame, Unity

Is It Really ALL My Fault?

My fault

The following is a question I received from a man who has been struggling in his marriage and working at trying to do what he needs to do to make it work. Granted, he was a contributor to the breakdown of their relationship, but has been putting forth the effort to right his wrongs. This question is so common that I decided to share my thoughts on the topic, knowing there are others who struggle with this issue:

When one party in a relationship decides to make positive changes, it can create a conflict in the other spouse, they may ask questions like; “Can I trust them? What do I do with my pain? Would things be better if I left?”  Just to name a few.  Often inner turmoil pushes the focus of blame on the other person.  The question arises, “Is this ALL my fault?”

Just a quick question, my wife and I spoke yesterday and she basically told me she can’t promise me that things will work out between us, but she’ll give it some time.  In your opinion, from experience, is it all my fault that we’re in this position (and having all of these marital problems)?  That’s the image she’s describing, and I’m just wondering if that’s possible.  Could it really be ALL my fault?  

I will TRY to answer as directly as possible (for me).  Is the blame in the breakdown of a marriage ever the fault of just one member of the party?  Honestly, if that were the case, it would be the first time I have ever experienced it in my 20 plus years of counseling.  A particular choice of bad behavior in a relationship might be perpetrated by one party or the other, but those individual choices tend to be symptomatic of a greater problem and that choice of “acting out” was their way of dealing with that problem.  In other words, a person doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to, let’s say, have an affair.  Usually you can trace backward the breakdowns (poor communication, no edification, lack of attention, lack of conflict resolution skills, etc.) that were occurring for quite some time in the marriage that led to the one party justifying a behavior like adultery, as in my example.  Once justified, the decision to act is only a matter of time unless the parties in the relationship make a joint effort to address the problem issues together, put forth the effort to change, lay THEIR (yes, plural) sinful behaviors at the foot of the cross (and do not pick it up again) and forgive the past; understanding that it took two people to create the original dynamic that lead to the offense(s).  As long as blame has priority over the desire to seek resolution there will never be the investment necessary to bring a marriage into alignment.

I apologize for out “winding” you, but you ask an explosive question, my friend.  Bottom line, I believe it takes two to make OR break a marriage.  The key to making the changes necessary to salvage the marriage requires a willingness on both parties to take responsibility for their own participation that has led to the erosion of the relationship.  God loves to work with honest and transparent people and I’ve witnessed him do nothing short of a miracle, but we ALL need to choose to participate in the healing and restoration process.

My recommendation would be to be intentional about your behavior and choose actions that show your interest in making the marriage work (emotions will lead you to destructive choices!) regardless of her making you sole blame or not.  If you are determined and prepared, do not let the decision to separate be yours, let her take responsibility and risk the consequences of such an action.  This will allow you the peace of knowing you did all you could to save your marriage and keep the family together.  Lastly, and CERTAINLY not least, keep this situation bathed in prayer (including praying for your spouse).  Just because you see no forward movement on the part of your mate does not mean that God is not trying to stir her heart.  Sometimes the way things look on the outside are not representative of what is going on inside.  At this moment she is protecting herself so as not to be hurt.  Remember, she is in pain and is not yet willing to take a chance on you.  It takes time to gather the evidence that your change is real and you will not do further damage to her.  The fact that she, “…can’t make any promises,” and that “…she’ll give it some time”, indicates that she may not be entirely ready to throw in the towel.  There may be some hope.  As you know, I can make no promises either way, but stay close to the Lord and he will give you the peace, comfort and courage you need to come out the other side of this trial.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.       Proverbs 3:5-6

Love your family, love those children.  Be blessed my brother, I love you and I’ll be praying for you both today.     – Pastor Eric

God takes marriage, a commitment not only to our spouse but to God, very seriously.  If the husband has been neglectful of his responsibilities, yet decides to put forth the effort to change and allow God to work in his heart he will only benefit.  Whether his wife has become hardhearted by her pain and chooses the path of least resistance; it doesn’t negate the husband’s responsibility to be submissive and allow God to grow him.  Remember, it’s not just about your spouse if there are children involved.  Even when divorce is likely, you still have the opportunity to be the best parent that you can.  It is not just an opportunity, it’s your obligation.

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Character, Commitment, Divorce, Emotions, Forgiveness, Leadership, Obedience, Prayer, Restoration, selflessness, Submission, Transparency, Trust

Do You Want to Draw Closer to Each Other, Draw Closer to God

 

hands

As with anything else, identifying areas that need to improve and actually putting forth the efforts to improve are two different things. Now you need to make the decision to change and act on it! Ask God to give you the strength, courage, and healing to put these new improvements into practice.

 Worship has to be on the top of the list. It is a broad category that includes attending church together, praying together, and reading the Bible together. There are other ways of worshiping together, but we will narrow our focus to these facets. Church attendance is very important as an outward expression of what you believe. The teachings serve to offer new input into your mind and soul. New input can challenge those unhealthy thoughts and at least give opportunity for change. Second Corinthians 10:5 states, “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

How would this be possible if we don’t know the knowledge of God? This is my personal life verse, and I highly recommend that you commit it to memory as a reminder. Get yourself plugged into a congregation that will challenge you. If you are sick, you go to the doctor, because he is the expert and authority. God is the expert and authority on marriage, and since he designed it, it would behoove you to find out what he has to say.

Praying together is a surefire way to increase intimacy in your relationship. You sit before God together, searching his heart and what he wants for the two of you. You don’t have to feel obligated to fill the air with words. You can keep your prayers simple and heartfelt. Sit together and listen—listen to what God would stir in your heart. Ask God to show you the things you need to change. But be careful; if you ask God to show you yourself, he will, so be ready to receive what he has to say. Remember he only wants you to be the best you can be, the way he created you.

The best and simplest way to visualize how God fits into the marriage commitment is as follows: envision a pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is God, the designer of marriage. He is at the pinnacle of the triangle. At the bottom left angle of the triangle we find the husband. At the bottom right angle we find his lovely wife. Now, place one finger on each bottom angle, representing the husband and the wife. Slowly slide your fingers up the sides of the triangle, moving toward the name God. What do you notice? As you move closer to God, you move closer to each other. Point taken?

 Reading the Word together has great marital benefits as well. It sparks great conversations as you contemplate what God would speak to you through the Scriptures. It provides a time for growing together in Him, which in turn increases intimacy. You will also get to know your spouse better as you share thoughts on God’s insights.

Do you demonstrate your love to your spouse by demonstrating your love to God? If you are reluctant to give God your love, It would only go without saying, how much less your mate? What are you willing to do to improve your relationship with God?

©Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Commitment, Love, Meditation, Obedience, Prayer, Unity, Worship

Pastor, NOT Perfect

shut up

Yes, God can speak in a whisper or a roar.  In this instance He wasn’t waiting long for me to pick up on the subtlety.  I want to share a conviction lesson that I received recently with hopes that you can all learn from my lesson.

So, I decide that on my way into the office that I am going to make a stop at my favorite restaurant and grab a bite to eat and sort out the agenda for the upcoming day.  Upon being seated and placing my order, I pull out my phone to begin work.  Suddenly, I am disturbed by one of two gentlemen sitting in a booth on the other side of the restaurant.  Apparently his voice modulator was on the fritz.  In a bold and boisterous tone, completely filter-less, he proceeds to unload a barrage of obscenities that begins to fill the restaurant like a dark and ominous cloud.  He appears to be angry, not at the man that he is seated with, but just angry.  Out it flows, “…and then that  %#@*&?!  tells me that he’s…what the  %#&?%@  am I supposed to do with…does he think I’m some kind of  %*#$@%!”

I can feel the hair rise on the nape of my neck.  Deep inside me begins to stir that old reliable (but sometimes misplaced) sense of justice.  “What is wrong with this guy?”  I glance up at the counter where sits two other gentleman, one older Caucasian man with white hair, the other a younger Hispanic man, who, moments prior were engaged in a quiet conversation.  Looking around the restaurant I notice another couple, having what they intended to be a nice relaxing breakfast.  The peace of their communication is shattered by the bellowing of this cyclone of profanity.  And so the barrage continues.

One of my first emotional responses was to walk straight up to this guy and tell him to either shut his mouth or at least lower his voice so that the rest of us don’t have to listen to him.  The sarcastic part of my nature (I prefer to refer to it as “my gifting” – that too is sarcasm!) wanted to yell across the room, “It’s too bad that you used up all of your intelligent words when you were younger and now you are scrapping the bottom of the barrel!”  Then, as if to justify the anger that was growing in me, I thought, “You are so lucky I don’t have my kids with me…!”  I was fully aware that my expression and mannerisms were communicating just as loudly as if I had actually said the words.

Then he utters this diatribe as if to judge the one that he is referring to, “I don’t know what the @%$*# is the matter with her!  It’s like she’s some kind of an idiot!  That stupid #$@&*! just says the first thing that crosses her mind, she just says it and doesn’t think twice!”  In utter amazement I took in the content of what this oblivious man just said.  As if unable to control my response, I laughed…out loud.  I caught myself, albeit too late, and looked up at the counter.  The white-haired gent was looking at me, shaking his head and rolling his eyes as if hearing what this guy had just said and acknowledging in agreement with my response.

Moments later, they got up, paid their bill and left the restaurant.  The angry fellow, seemingly unaware of how he had affected the ambiance of the restaurant and, more importantly to me, how he had affected my breakfast.

Then it happened!  I felt it!  A sudden tugging of a different kind, starting deep and subtle,  growing to awareness as it came over me.  Mind you, my responses described earlier were in my head (things in the moment that I wish I had done or said), they had not escaped the thought level and ventured into the verbalization phase.  It’s true…I had been caught!  The conviction cut me like a newly sharpened dagger.

First off, I’m laughing at how judgmental this guy was toward the lady of which he spoke, all the while being totally ignorant of his own bad behavior.

Second, in my head I’m holding this guy to my Christian moral code of ethics.  Was he even a Christian?  I would doubt it by his behavior (I’m sure you see the personal irony there).  If he were not a believer he is not held to that standard…but I am!

Third, in my nonverbal communication and my laughter at this guy, did I encourage the others in the restaurant to partake in my questionable attitude and behavior?

Fourth, although I didn’t verbalize (per se) my emotional responses, was I not guilty of having a critical spirit?

I allowed arrogance to control my thoughts, that’s the long and short of it.  Scripture is clear on that topic.  I also forgot a very important scripture as I got caught up in the situation.

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.     -James 4:17

Ouch!  I am not condoning the man’s bad behavior, this lesson was not for him, it was about me!  Would I have affected in a positive way the situation had I confronted him?  Not likely, he was already angry and that would probably have antagonized him further and no doubt fueled my frustration.  There were only a handful of adults in the restaurant, did they require my protection, probably not.  I had already assessed the situation regarding the presence of children and there were none.  You see, this became about me, my righteousness!  I forgot, for the moment, that Jesus Christ went to the cross for BOTH of us.  You see, without Him we are not so different.

After some assessment, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I chose the response I should have chosen at the outset, I prayed for the man.  We are ALL a work-in-progress, so don’t give up when you give in to bad decisions.  Lay it before the Lord and ask Him for the strength and courage (and reminders) to keep it all “in check”.  Sometimes it’s tough to take the high road.  But remember, choosing to take the Holy road rather than the common one is never about taking the path of least resistance.

P.S. Never be too old to learn and it doesn’t matter who you are.  After all, I’m a pastor, NOT perfect.  Lesson learned!

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Comments Welcome!

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Behavior, Beliefs, Character, Emotions, Obedience, Role Modeling

Being Bullied: It’s Not Just For Children

Bullying

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.    Proverbs 27:17

My current post is a bit off the beaten path. I received an email from an adult female expressing a very real (and all too common concern) that she has been experiencing. After obtaining her permission, she has allowed me to share the email and my response in hopes that it may help someone else who is dealing with a similar situation. To her I say, “Thank You,” as she does her part to fulfill Proverbs 27:17

“Hi Pastor Eric I need some advice. I seem to be getting bullied and as funny as that sounds, I don’t know how to handle it “God’s way”. I noticed it with my husband’s sister and co-workers. They would do stuff to me on purpose and because I don’t know how to respond in a way that would be pleasing to God, I don’t say anything. I can honestly say I understand why people commit suicide because of being bullied. I used to bully a girl in my B.C. (before Christ) days, so is this my weakness now. I feel I can’t respond to them because it’s not going to come out nice and I don’t want to later apologize for any rude behavior. I need some advice on what to do because I feel like throwing in the towel and calling it quits.”     – Anonymous

Throwing in the towel IS NOT an option for those who have their strength from God but, I do understand the feelings. This simply requires some assertiveness on your part. Remember, they are probably being consistent in their behavior. Being rude should not be an option for you, you’ll just look (and feel) like a jerk and nothing will be accomplished. These situations call for us to do what is right. Be civil, but firm.

A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control.  – Proverbs 29:11

There is certain behavior that you should not tolerate because it is disrespectful to you. Before approaching the issue, I would recommend you take it under prayerful consideration. Ask the Lord to show you how you may be provoking this type of behavior in others (bad attitude, sarcasm, teasing others, etc.). Assess yourself first and make sure your motives are pure. The Lord will guide you in the direction to go.

In the practice of assertiveness, I would let them know that you do not appreciate such behavior (Assuming you don’t treat them with equal disregard) and you do not treat them in such a manner. Do not be preachy or condescending; simply express how you feel about it (without demonstrating those feelings). If the behavior continues, it is time to set some boundaries. You might need to share the situation with your supervisor or minimize your interactions with the offending party. If the offender is family, make sure you share the situation with your husband, it’s important that he is aware (he can only support you in what he knows) so that you do not appear irrational in your behavior.

I am not of the opinion that you are “reaping what you’ve sewn”. You have grown since your pre-Christian days (or you wouldn’t even be bothering to ask the question in the first place! The Holy Spirit is speaking to you, wanting you to do the right thing (more evidence of growth). Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you are called to be intentional in your actions. In other words, don’t let your feelings dictate your behavior; choose to behave in a Godly manner in spite of what you may be feeling about the person or the circumstance.

I would also encourage you to keep these folks in your prayers; obviously they have damage that drives such behaviors and need healing as well. This is a good place to start. Keep your feelings under control and do not simply react. Think about your presentation before you approach these people. Ask yourself, “How would I respond if someone spoke to me the way that I am about to speak to them?” Adjust your presentation accordingly. Do not even broach the subject if you are feeling intense feelings of anger or frustration, it will not go well!

I pray that God is with you as you address these circumstances. Remember, you are not in this alone. Be blessed!
– Pastor Eric

A few days later came a follow-up message:

“Good morning Pastor Eric! I just had to share this with you! I got prayed for by a pastor visiting my church. He told me, “Not to fear, it’s not part of my personality…” I love that he threw that in there. It was so encouraging to hear this reminder that He is with me.

 Well, last night I get a text message at 12:00am from the coworker that I have been having all my problems with, the one that has been treating me so rudely.  She sent me a link to an encouraging video and added. “Sorry, I know you are sleeping, but I’m trying so hard to seek God. This is what I do (referring to the link), listen to the Word at night.” She said that her mom and brother attend church and are praying for her as well. This was so powerful to me that it caused walls to be broken down! I can’t express how excited I am that she reached out to me! I am so grateful that I didn’t respond to her in a negative way prior to this. Glory be to God! Thank you for your encouragement and simply being there pastor.”     -Anonymous

Important take-away, one never knows what others are struggling with or how God is trying to work in them. It is in the best interest of God to be obedient and submissive to his authority. There is great danger in taking on the role of accuser, jury, judge and executioner. Seek Him first and asses our own behavior and motivations before we act. Let your emotional drive take a back seat to your display of godly behavior. It’s better to be used by God to lift someone up rather than used by the enemy to tear someone down.  There is much to be learned by all, thank you Lord for teaching us.

Be Blessed!

©2016 Eric A. Disney, Marriage by Design

Ready to Reactivate Your Marriage? Click on the “About the Book” tab to learn more about Marriage by Design: The Keys to Create, Cultivate and Claim the Marriage You’ve Always Wanted.

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Filed under Assertiveness, Behavior, Bullying, Character, Communication, Conflict Resolution, Emotions, Obedience, Respect