The Journey with Ron Moore

Far too many couples are convinced that a weekend marriage seminar, or the newest book on marriage with be the silver bullet that “fixes” their relationship. We all wish it were that easy. There are no quick fixes for marital satisfaction. Certainly, seminars and books can be the catalysts. But relationships improve (or not) only if couples are willing to do the hard work of applying the new knowledge and skills. Albert Einstein well said, “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were when we created them.”

Stable and satisfying marriages are enjoyed by two people willing to do the hard work. In my doctoral work, I took couples through a process of pre-testing, an enrichment program, and then post-testing. Not surprisingly, the couples who did the least amount of work in the enrichment program scored lowest on the post-test and the couples who did the most work scored highest. Marriage is an ever-changing connection that has to be continually examined, recharged, and redirected as new circumstances, stages, issues, and problems arise.

 

Here are four very basic things you can do to get started:

  1. Take 10 minutes 5 days a week to read a devotional together. I suggest:

My Utmost for His Highest, Oswald Chambers

Heirs Together for Life, Charles and Norma Ellis (Banner of Truth, 1980)

Becoming Soul Mates, Les and Leslie Parrott (Zondervan, 1995)

 

2. Take 5 minutes 5 days a week to pray together.

Praying together can be difficult for many couple. Here are some things that will help.

  • Establish a set time to pray. Make the time work for you and your schedules.
  • If you are not used to praying together, begin by praying silently together. When comfort and trust is built finish the prayer time by praying aloud.
  • If you are not comfortable praying aloud together, write out your prayers then share them with each other. In them you will be able to develop the discipline of praying openly and honestly.
  • The more you pray together, the more you will want to pray together. Also, you may want to check out a couple books by Ken Boa, Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Spiritual Growth and Face to Face: Praying the Scripture for Intimate Worship (Zondervan, 1997).

 

  1. Begin dating again.

A major desire that spouses have is for their partner to be a friend. Re-fresh your friendship by going out and having fun together. Dates need not be expensive. A walk in the park or on a trail provides much opportunity to talk and enjoy one another’s company. If dates have fallen by the wayside, begin with one a month. Have some fun.

 

  1. Schedule a thirty minute weekly meeting.

Establish a time to meet once a week where planning, conflict resolution, and healthy communication can take place. I know it sounds too simple, maybe even too formal. But a weekly meeting is an important habit to establish in a growing relationship. With busy schedules, it provides a time to put upcoming events and activities on personal calendars. Researchers Markman, Stanley, and Blumberg note that a weekly meeting provides a tangible way to place priority on your relationship by carving out a set time. So, find a comfortable place, grab a cup of coffee, and take a few minutes to get on the same page.

Many believers wait for a big movement of God. They wait for the church or even the government to initiate needed change. But the Bible and history shows that change is not brought about by one person. It takes place one person at a time.

Long before Luther drew up his 95 Theses, John Huss led a great revival in Prague. The revival was later forced underground by persecution. Huss was burned at the stake. Due to Huss’ great sacrifice, an underground church existed in central Europe. The Gospel was passed down from father to son, mother to daughter, and grandparent to grandchild—one person at a time.

Finally, these believers found refuge in Germany. They were called Moravians by this point and provided the spark for revivals in Germany, Holland, the Scandinavian countries, France, Switzerland, England and America. It was Moravian missionaries who spoke to John Wesley about a personal relationship with Christ on a ship headed to America.

So, many years before Luther, true believers were active throughout Germany. All along God had been preparing his people for the great Reformation.[1]

Change does not depend on one person, but one person at a time. Don’t wait on that “One Person.” Be the person that passes the Gospel along from person to person and impact generations.

 


[1] Richards, L., & Richards, L.O. (1987). The Teachers Commentary (545-546). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Oneness in marriage means that a husband and wife are headed the same direction at the same time for the same reasons. Jesus said that in marriage, a man and woman are “no longer two but one.”

So what are the things that blow up oneness, and how can we deactivate the bomb before is explodes?

  1. Failure to commit your relationship to the Lord. 

Too many couples spend more time worrying about getting a wedding dress, the guest list (do we have to invite Aunt Lizzie?), and the playlist at the reception (but we have to have “On the Pontoon.”) than they do about properly preparing for marriage.  Therein lies the problem: honeymoons and first homes cannot supersede committing one’s relationship to the Lord.

Too many couples think marriage is about them. It’s not! Marriage is about honoring God. Marriage is about doing together what you could never do alone.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Bow together before God and commit your relationship to Him.
  • Plan a public time of re-commitment (we do this every spring after our marriage enrichment class).
  • Commit to pray daily with and for your spouse.
  • Worship and serve together in a vibrant community of believers.

 

  1. Failure to “Leave” and “Cleave.”

When God designed marriage, He said that all former relationships are to become secondary, and their new relationship is to be primary. The husband and wife are to be united to each other and never let go. “Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate” (Matthew 19:6).

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Place your relationship with parents behind your relationship with your spouse. NEVER talk to you parents about marriage issues. NEVER.
  • Place your relationship with friends behind your relationship with your spouse. You might have to give up Monday Night Football with the boys.
  • Marriage is a room with no exits. Vow to each other (again) and God (again) that you will not leave the relationship. Remember that “for better or worse” thing you said on your wedding day?

 

  1. Busy distractions.

Emails are a blessing and a curse. Cell phones are just a curse. Anyone can reach you at any time. Then kids come and, of course, since they are going to be a professional athlete, we have to have them in three sports at a time (forget family meals).

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Weekly meetings. Once a week set aside a time to schedule the week’s events. Keep a family calendar, evaluate your busyness, and make the necessary changes.
  • Learn to say “No.” In fact, learn to say “NO!” Is it really worth spending weekends apart so one of you can fly with Sally to Sarasota for a soccer tournament?

 

  1. Keeping up with the Jones. 

Money is not only the root of all evil; it is the demise of many marriages. The hidden issues that come with money (power, control, care, etc.) drive wedges between husbands and wives.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Get a grip on your finances.
  • Downsize if necessary. If you have to work seventy hours a week, travel around the world, miss your children growing up and see your marriage fall apart just so you can pay for all your stuff and feed your ego—it ain’t worth it!

 

  1. Stages of life.

Marriage is full of adjustments and changes. First there are the adjustments of being married. Lori and I had numerous arguments on whether or not the bathroom door should be open or closed when not in use. In her family it was opened; in my family it was closed.

There are adjustments and changes in raising children—the toddler, elementary, middle school, and high school. One day, you’ll be dropping them off at college. It’s a killer. Then they get married. Walking my daughters down the aisle was another killer. Someone said it’s like handing over a million dollar Stradivarius violin to a gorilla.

There are adjustments and changes as our parents age and our last child leaves.

If we don’t do stages of life well, one day we sitting together in an empty home staring at a person we don’t know.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Keep Dating. Yeah, I know, it sounds too simple. But having a consistent time where you can get away from kids and issues of life, be together, have fun, laugh together, and talk in relaxed moments will allow you to grow together through the stages of life. Sometimes Lori and I go out to eat or to a movie. Sometimes we sit on our front porch and talk (like we used to do on her front porch when we were dating).

 

  1. It has to be my way.

James says that our fights and quarrels come from the desires that battle within us. “You want something but you don’t get it” (see James 4:1-3). Some husbands and wives are just downright selfish. If they don’t get their way they pout, at best, or use others emotions of marriage as weapons. Some use sex—the giving or refusing—as a power play to get their way.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Admit your sin.
  • Seek forgiveness from God and your spouse.

 

  1. Unhealthy communication.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). We know that to be true. A lack of communication or unhealthy communication will crater a marriage. In communication we share our heart. If we can’t do that with our spouse, oneness is in jeopardy.

Deactivate the Bomb

  • Ask God to guard your tongue.
  • Learn the “Speaker-Listener” technique (I will teach it to you in an upcoming blog).

 

There are many other things that blow up marriages. Some things, like affairs or abuse, need professional Christian counseling. What are some other things you would add to “Things that Blow Up Oneness in a Marriage?”

Eleven men sat in a darkened room.  There had been twelve. Now one was dead. Along with darkness was a mixture of hopelessness and confusion.  Jesus had promised so much. He had performed so often. His words were so certain. But now . . . now all the promises, miracles, and words were bound in grave cloths, lying cold and still in a dark tomb. Their hope was buried with him.

Death is seldom welcome. It barges into life like an impatient intruder. But for these men it was not just death, but the way it came that made it all so unbelievable. In a whirlwind of events He had been falsely tried, beaten, and sentenced to die. The face that calmed their hearts winced as the mocking crown of thorns was jammed into his head. The hands that healed were grotesquely constricted by the spikes driven through his wrists. The lips that spoke with authority now screamed desperate cries to God. The Healer, helpless? The Christ, crucified? Hanging naked on a Roman cross? Not the Messiah! Never!

They sat in the darkened room. The doors were bolted shut. Certainly those who had killed Jesus would be coming for them. The deafening silence was broken as every cough and creaking chair echoed throughout the room. The shuffling feet, the heavy sighs served as reminders of the tension.

But then . . . in an instant . . . He was there! In the room! In the light of the flickering candles he showed them all the proof they needed. His hands. His side. He was there!! Alive!! Every word he had spoken was true! Every promise fulfilled! Death conquered, forever!

Today many live in a darkened world. Living lives of fear, confusion, discontentment, and despair.  Searching for meaning and significance. . . in all the wrong places. Occupying themselves with busy days. Losing sleep over things that matter little. Losing time over things that matter most. And all the while, He is there.

He shines His light on the darkened soul, exposing sin. His arms are open wide accepting and forgiving the confessing sinner. And for all who turn and trust and call Him Savior and Lord, He speaks words of peace—eternal peace with God; lasting peace for tomorrow; settled peace for today.

Have you seen the risen Savior in your darkened world? He is there! Follow Him in the resurrection of new life!

To the Roman soldiers it was just another day’s work. The assignment of putting criminals to death had hardened their hearts. Gambling for the clothes of those who hung naked dulled their ears from the cries of pain. Breaking the legs of the victims ensured a shorter workday. Running a spear through the side of the one in the middle was part of the job. Justice was done. Their task was complete. The three were dead.

Those beneath the cross wept; saddened to lose a son and a friend. Those looking on smiled; satisfied that their enemy had been silenced.  Those standing at a distance were confused. The brutal death of their leader was not why they had dropped their nets, waded out of the water, and followed him.

The events of the past twenty-four hours spun out of control in the disciples’ heads and hearts. The blur of events caused moments of disbelief and moments of nausea. Denial was repeatedly replaced by waves of emotion so strong they could not stand. The expectation that they would be soon be put to death had transformed them from followers to fugitives. Paralyzed with fear they hid together planning what their next move would be and when it was safe to make it. Exhaustion forced fitful sleep but they awoke to another day of wringing their hands. Every hope, dream, and promise died when he cried, “It is finished”. It was finished. They saw him take his last breath. It was time to go back home.

To the Heavenly Father it was the day death died. What seemed like chaotic events that led to an untimely end was all on the sovereign schedule. When the time was right, God sent his Son. Like poison at the mouth of a stream contaminates the entire flow, so the willful disobedience of Adam and Eve contaminated the entire human race.  Sin separated man from the designed and desired relationship. Physical death was just the picture of a worse judgment yet to come.  Every human was on a fast track to eternal separation from God. But…God came down and paid the penalty himself. The wrath against sin was poured out on Jesus. He paid the penalty for our sin. His voluntary death on our behalf put death to death. Our trust in that sacrifice gives us life.

To demonstrate that the work of Jesus was sufficient for all time, God raised him from the dead. Death was dead. Life was restored. The promises were true after all. Hope was restored. Those beneath the cross wept for joy. His enemies made up stories to cover their confusion. The disciples fell at his feet and called him Lord.

 

What do you do with the day death died? What will you do with the offer of life in the living Lord?

When Jesus cried out from the cross, “My God, my God why have you forsaken me?” He was not asking, “Why have you left me forever?” Jesus knew He was leaving the world and going to the Father (John 14:28, 16:10, 17). Jesus was not rejecting God. He repeats, “My God.” Jesus knew that He was dying for our sins.

Jesus’ cry is a quotation from Psalm 22, a Psalm in which the psalmist asks why God is so far from helping him, why God delays in rescuing him.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.

-Psalm 22:1-2

Jesus, in his human nature, knew He would have to suffer and to die. But in his human consciousness He probably didn’t know how long the suffering would take. To bear the guilt of millions for a moment would cause great anguish. To face the wrath of God for an instant would be more than any of us could bear. But Jesus’ suffering was not for a minute, or a couple minutes, or even half an hour. In His humanity, He didn’t know when it would end. Hour after hour, the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus. Jesus, I believe, is asking, “Why must this go on for so long? Will it ever end?”

Then finally, He had borne all the wrath of the Father against our sins. God’s wrath on sin was appeased. He knew all that remained was to give up His spirit and die. At that point, He cried out in victory, “It is finished!” which means “Paid in Full.” At the cross, the wrath of God was fully satisfied. Then Jesus called out in a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” and breathed his last (Luke 23:46).

Our salvation is free…but oh, so costly. We must never take our purchase price for granted.

Marriage is not a casual agreement. It is a covenant made before witnesses and God. Jesus tells us that God is the one who joins the husband and wife together “and what God has joined together let no man separate. Scripture says, “It is better to not to make a vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it” (Ecclesiastes 5:5).

So let’s think about the commitment it takes to keep our vows. I have adapted a good bit of the following from Scott Stanley’s excellent book, The Heart of Commitment.

 

TWO KINDS OF COMMITMENT

  1. Constraint Commitment: The external pressure to stay together. 

Constraint commitment involved the outside forces that compel couples to stay together. They include

  • Social Pressure: If we split up, our family, friends, and community may disapprove.
  • Morality of Divorce: Most Christian couples know that God hates divorce.
  • Children: Parents don’t want to hurt their children by splitting up.
  • Finances: Divorce is expensive and may well alter your lifestyle.
  • Termination Procedure: There are several steps in ending a marriage that take time and money.
  • Alternative Quality: Most people want to be married, even if they don’t want to stay married. There is great concern if others will be interested in them as a future mate.

 

  1. Dedication Commitment: The internal state of devotion to a person.

Dedication commitment is the inner longing of a person to stay in a relationship. It is evidenced by the desire to not only continue in a relationship, but also make personal sacrifices to improve it. Here are some sources of dedication.

  • Relationship Agenda: This exists when couples build mission and purpose into their relationship. They plan for the future; in essence, saying that they are committed to be in their spouse’s future.
  • Primacy of Relationship: This is demonstrated by couples making regular times for each other, establishing the priority of dinner together, scheduling dates, and scheduling meetings to work through problems and issues.
  • Couple Identity: This refers to the degree to which a husband and wife view themselves as a team. One way this is demonstrated is when couples use plural pronoun (we, our, us) instead of singular (I, me, mine) in referring to their relationship. Words mean something. They express our hearts. 
  • Satisfaction with Sacrifice: The degree to which the couple takes pleasure in doing things for their spouse’s benefit and enjoyment. 

Dedication and constraint commitment are not mutually exclusive. Dedication commitment increases constraint commitment. And constraint commitment provides a foundation for dedication commitment to grow and flourish. The experiences of a relationship like buying a home together, having children, the death of parents, are significant investments into a relationship that increase both dedication and constraint commitment.

 

At the end of the day, these two types of commitment work like epoxy glue. You need them both to keep your vows…that you made to God.

Life is full of defining moments. Events take place and decisions are made that literally change the course of our lives. Sometimes these defining moments are uninvited. With battering ram force, they barge into our lives and leave us dealing with sickness, divorce, loss, and disappointment. Other times, we open the day and sound a rousing welcome. We are accepted to the college of our choice. We get the job. We get the girl or the boy. The baby is born! Life is full of defining moments.

Today is a defining moment for you; or at least an opportunity for one. God may be calling you into a personal relationship with Him. Will you respond? He may be calling you into a deeper level of commitment and service to Him. Will you submit? He is calling His children to come together and praise Him through music and preaching. Will you sing from your heart to God and following the call from His Word?

Today holds a defining moment that I encourage you to welcome wholeheartedly.  Are you ready for God to change your heart and life?

I write to parents with children at home. Singles, married without children, empty-nesters – don’t misunderstand, you are important too. But for this post, allow me to narrow the audience. And don’t stop reading. Singles and married without children, my words may soon apply directly to you. And empty-nesters, we need your prayerful support and help.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITY.  OK – read it again. This is the key passage on parenting in Scripture. Although this passage is rich in teaching and application, let me drive home this one point: God has given parents the primary and ultimate responsibility for spiritual training. The headquarters for Christian is not the Christian School, the Sunday School, the Kids Clubs, or Student Ministry. The headquarters is the home. Parent(s), the responsibility lies on your doorstep. The spiritual life must be taught and exemplified in the home.

PLAN. As you plan for business meetings and big meals, so plan for family devotions. Parents, spend time discussing what important truths you would like to convey. Determine in advance how to convey these truths. Pray that God will help you communicate effectively. Set a specific starting time and stick to it. There are many excellent resources available to you.

PROTECT. Protect your time together. Turn the WiFi off. Require all your children to be present. Homework is not a viable excuse. Allow your voicemail to do its job.

PERSEVERE. Initially there will be resistance. Satan will be sure to provide distractions. You may feel like you are not “getting through.” But even in the midst of all the distractions the Spirit of God will do His work, if you don’t give up.

PLEASURE. Make it fun!!! ”It is a crime to bore someone with the Word of God.” Laugh. Sing. Act out parts of scripture. One December we acted out the Christmas story at our home. Our children made sure we went through it five times so everyone could play a different part. I must say I made a much better Joseph than I did a Mary or the baby Jesus. Video singing or the drama and play it back. As your children watch it on TV, they are hearing the message again. Or how about a video testimony from a godly grandparent who lives a distance away? Come together with relatives and grandparents who live nearby. Periodically, share a meal and devotions with another family. By all means make this an enjoyable experience.

UNBELIEVING PARTNERS. Wives, some of you are married to men who have not yet placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Be sensitive. Prayerfully propose a time of reading the Bible and praying together as a family. But don’t push. Continue to live as a godly example before your children. Prayerfully read and apply 1 Peter 3:1-6.

PRAY. Pray that God will give you the boldness to apply Deuteronomy 6:4-9. Pray for discipline and perseverance. Pray that he will bring about eternal results.

I am convinced that if families will accept the leadership challenge and prayerfully persevere, American  families will see true revival and we will truly be a “city set on a hill.”

 

I believe far too many young men and women enter the dating game with no real plan. This leaves them open to move forward in a relationship based on immediate emotions. Too often they find themselves involved before they take a hard look at the person with whom they have fallen “in love.” “Love is blind” as the saying goes. Deep emotion can keep us from seeing another person’s true character.

Young people (and old people for that matter) move through dating, to engagement, to marriage without a thorough assessment of the person they are getting ready to look in the eyes and say “for better or worse.” Even when the relationship gets out of hand many feel it is too late to adjust or jettison.

 

Therefore, it’s important to make decisions before you get involved in a relationship.

 

Below is a process I call MATE. This is an evaluation process parents can use with their children to talk to them about the type of person they want to date. This is also a process young adults can use as they maneuver the complicated and confusing path of looking for a future spouse.

MATE

MATE is an acronym for Must Have, Add-ons, Take it or leave it, and End of the Road. I will explain each of these below. I asked our own children, ages 16-27, to give me examples of each. Two of them are married. Input from my daughter-in-law and son-in-law are included as well.

Certainly, some of the examples are subjective. You will not agree with all of them. You will need to guide your children to a list of their own. Use our examples to start the discussion.

MUST HAVE

This represents the starting point, the must haves. These things are non-negotiable. They must be there from the start. The relationship doesn’t even get started unless these are present.

 

Must Have Examples:

Believer


Person of character


Person of high moral values


Industrious


Easy to talk to/spend time with


Physically attractive

Respects you without requiring you to change


Respected by peers

 

 

ADD-ONs

Just below the “Must Haves” are the preferred things you desire in a relationship. These are not showstoppers, but they are serious considerations. They are the things you may or may not want to live with or without.

 

Add-On Examples:

Spiritually mature


Knows calling/vocation


College graduate


Gets along with family/friends


Similar views of husband/wife and mother/father roles 


Good sense of humor


High (or low) activity level


Challenges me intellectually (makes me think)

Has a good relationship with his/her parents/family.


Wants a good relationship with family of origin and spouse’s family


Good conversationalist


Makes me laugh


Willing to lead


Shows empathy


Willing to be spontaneous

 

Take It or Leave It

You could go either way. These are optional things. Electives. Available but not obligatory. May be family of origin issues.

 

Take It or Leave It Examples:

Good singing voice


Athletic


Likes the Oklahoma Sooners


Wants to live in the same places


Close with family


Would rather vacation at the beach than the mountains


Volunteers in the community


Specific physical characteristic (I was looking for someone taller than I was, and I did succeed. Note: This came from my daughter-in-law who is 5’5” and my son is 6’3”)


Likes coffee


Has tattoos


Eyebrow ring


Willing to travel and/or move away


Morning person


Likes dessert


Enjoys playing games


Likes repairing things


Likes dogs

 

End of the Road

These are showstoppers. A character trait. A bad habit. An annoyance. If this person did this thing or acted this way there will be no future. This discovery may not be made until months into the relationship. However, if it shows up, game over.

 

End of the Road Examples:

Not a believer


Does not respect his mother


Addicted to video games


Allergic to peanut butter


Drug use


Smoker


Alcohol abuse


Unwilling to listen


Loud chewer


Crazy laugh


History of lying/deceit


Does not get along well with immediate family/close friends


Large debt with no plan to try and actively decrease


Unwilling to travel and explore


Rude to waiters at restaurants


Not well matched on significant issues (denominational differences, political differences, etc.)


Manipulative


Lazy


Explosive temper


Abusive


Previous marriages/relationships

 

I encourage you to use the MATE process with your children. We have had a great time discussing this with our children. Let me know how your children respond.

Parents are exhausted these days.  Life is busy.  Let me share with you an experience I had when our kids were younger…

I had been moaning about how busy things were. My job. The new baby. Soccer, softball, and baseball practices and games. School stuff. Yard work. And on and on. But God was clear. These are the best of times. I have blessed you with another miracle. Your children are at an age when they want to be with you and want you involved in their lives. Too soon these will all be memories. Enjoy it while you can!” Then He spoke in a letter of encouragement and recollections from my mother. “Believe me,” she wrote. “I remember the pee wee ball games of [yours]. At the time they were time consuming, but now I have so many good memories. [It was] also nice because I had dad here to share all of good times. Time goes by so fast, enjoy all these times.”

Don’t waste time on temporal stuff. How much time do we spend on things that don’t count’? How much energy do we spend piling up straw that one future day will not survive the final evaluation (1 Corinthians 3: 10-I 5). Life is about eternal things. The present is about the future. We must live each day knowing that an account will be given to God.

Don’t sacrifice the future for a moment of pseudo-pleasure. I have seen too many fall to sexual temptation to make the mistake of saying, “It could never happen to me!” That day God reminded me just how much I have to lose. The love, respect, and trust of those I love the most could be shattered in a moment. The beautiful love of a beautiful wife; the hugs and kisses and respect of four gifts of God, the fun of wrestling on the living room floor; laughter at the dinner table; nicknames for each have sworn to card board games: “party nights” by the fireplace with popcorn and videos—-just being with those I love the most could be lost in a moment of irrational disobedience that I am protected from only by the grace of God.

May God continue to use all the things that make up life to remind to stand firm in His grace.

You and I will no doubt cry the tears that parents cry as our children grow. But by His grace we can enjoy these busy days; invest in things that count for eternity: and be a part of our children’s futures instead of living alone some day in the desert land of remorse and regret.

Just as each person has a unique fingerprint, so each marriage has a unique “marriageprint,” a distinctiveness that belongs to each couple alone. God unites couples to do together what they could never do alone. God has brought you together as man and wife to do what no other union in the world can do.

So what is it that God wants you to do? What impact does He want you to make?

To help you answer that question, I’d like to show you how to write a Marriage Mission Statement. The statement is the product. The real work to marriage mission is the process that you need to work through together.

 

Why Should We Write a Marriage Mission Statement?

  1. A mission or purpose defines the long-term reason for the existence of your marriage. Marriage is more than having a ceremony and setting up a house. A mission provides the meaning and significance. It articulates why your marriage is more than individual gratification.
  2. A mission describes a marriage bigger than the parts and the sum of the parts. Internally focused marriages are not fulfilling. Successful and satisfying marriages have a mission to God, each other, family, church, community, and the world.
  3. A mission guides a couple to a goal and motivates them to make the sacrifices necessary to reach the goal.

 

Writing a Marriage Mission Statement

I have every couple I marry write a Marriage Mission Statement. The statement is printed in the wedding program and I include it in the ceremony. I understand that the mission will become more specific as the couple’s relationship matures. But the mission helps a couple begin their relationship in harness together, heading the same direction at the same time for the same reasons.

Here are some examples of Marriage Mission Statements:

We made a decision to honor God together after choosing him for ourselves. We believe God brought us together and has plans for us that we cannot achieve on our own. This means stepping out in faith to follow God, recognizing that his plans may not be our plans. We desire to serve each other living out Im Third, knowing this will require sacrifice, dedication and most importantly love. With that in mind we commit our lives to each other and Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

We publicly proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. It is through Him alone that our sins are forgiven and that we may have a personal relationship with God. We commit to love one another with Jesus Christ as the foundation of our marriage. We commit to use the gifts The Lord has blessed us with to serve our family, friends, church and those in need. We pray that by Gods strength and guidance this mission statement will not be only words but visibly evident to others in the way we live our lives from this day forward.

We publicly acknowledge our faith in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, for it is by His grace and perfect will that we have been brought together. We commit to always keep Christ as the foundation of our marriage. We promise to always encourage each other and continually grow in our relationship with God, both as individuals and as a couple. We will not let anything come between us, and we will demonstrate our love for each other every day. We commit to honoring one anothers dreams and desires. We are committed to prayer and being in Gods word daily. We will raise our children in a house that loves and serves the Lord by demonstrating to them the importance of living a life holy and pleasing to God. We promise to love and support our extended families. We desire to build relationships and to serve within our church family. We commit to serving people both in our community and around the world. We commit to demonstrate to a watching world that God has us on a mission to further His kingdom.

Francois Fenelon (August 6, 1651 – January 7, 1715) was a French Roman Catholic archbishop, theologian, poet and writer. His instruction on prayer is the best I have ever seen. Here’s what Fenelon says:

Tell God all that is in your heart, as one unloads one’s heart, its pleasures and its pains, to a dear friend. Tell Him your troubles, that He may comfort you; tell Him your joys, that He may sober them; tell Him your longings, the He may purify them; tell Him your dislikes, that He may help you conquer them, talk to Him of your temptations, that He may shield you from them; lay bare your indifference to good, your depraved tastes for evil, you instability. Tell Him how self-love makes you unjust to others, how vanity tempts you to be insincere, how pride disguises you to yourself and others.

If you pour out all you weaknesses, needs, and troubles there will be no lack of what to say. You will never exhaust the subject. It is continually being renewed. People who have no secrets from each other never want for subjects of conversation. They do not weigh their words, for there is nothing to be held back; neither do they seek for something to say. They talk out of the abundance of the heart, without consideration they say what they think. Blessed are they who attain to such familiar, unreserved, conversation with God.

I have coached a variety of recreational sports in my community. I hate to admit it, but for many years I was a downright jerk. Now, years removed from my coaching “jerkiness,” it’s hard to believe that I took winning so seriously. But I did. Several of us coaches worked hard at beating each other. Somehow we forgot about the kids. At least I did. I wish I could have a “do-over” on those years, but I can’t.

I was very hard on my own children as well. I put so much pressure on them that they were unable to enjoy the sports they loved. My blind spot wake-up call came one day when I berated my daughter for striking out. Here is the story from my side and then my daughter’s side. I wrote mine with Paul’s words in Colossians 3:21 ringing in my head, “Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.”

 

My Perspective

From the time that I was seven years old, it was drilled into my head. Every coach from 10-and-under to college bellowed the same command, “Don’t take a called third strike! If you strikeout, you had better go down swinging. When you have two strikes, widen your stance, choke up a bit, protect the plate, don’t take anything close. Whatever you do, never watch the third strike go by!” So when I began coaching my kids, I repeated the same instruction.

I will never forget one particular softball game. My oldest daughter Brittany, a fifth grader at the time and a great player, made the last out of the game by taking a called third strike. My insides ignited. After the obligatory handshakes and post-game “great game girls” talk, I walked to the car with Brittany. The very second the doors were shut, I exploded. “What just happened out there?! Why didn’t you swing the bat?! Never, I mean never, take a called third strike. How many times have you heard me say that? You could have pulled that pitch down the right field line. As fast as you are, you could have made it to third easily. We could have won the game! What were you doing?” I stopped to take a breath and then started repeating the questions with a louder voice. Then I saw the tears. My heart sank and I realized how foolish I had been to get so upset with my daughter over a recreational softball game.

Please don’t do what I did. Do not embitter your children. The word “embitter” means to “irritate” or “provoke.” One translation used the word “exasperate.” This continued practice will cause them to lose heart, confidence and respect in you as a father. As fathers, we are called to demonstrate what it means to honor the heavenly Father in all things. As fathers, we are called to build up our children. As fathers, we are called to demonstrate unconditional acceptance and love. Embittered hearts will walk away from God and us.

 

Brittany’s Perspective

The walk back to the car might have been worse than the actual strike out. Check that statement. It was infinitely worse. When I think of bad games, none stick out in my mind like that particular one—my at-bats consisted of nothing but strikeouts and infield pop-flies. Never in my five years of playing had I struck out so much in one game. Usually, I was not one to watch a ball pass by (I was notorious for swinging at the first pitch). During this particular at-bat, I was horrified to hear the umpire—an energetic baseball enthusiast whose “strike” call always made us jump—call “staaariike three! She’s out!” From my left handed batting stance, my dad in his third base coach position was directly in my line of sight. My stomach flip-flopped as I, anxiously glancing up the third base line, saw my dad drop his head. Game over.

I walked numbly to our old gray Honda, dragging my cleated-feet against the pavement, dreading the car ride home. My mom, who had driven separately, passed by on her way to the van. “See you at home,” she said, giving me an empathetic glance and my arm a reassuring squeeze.

“Bye, Mom,” I managed to choke out, while in my head I was screaming, “Please! Ask to take me home! I don’t want to drive home with Dad!” But, unable to read my thoughts, my mom walked away, and I was left to face the terrible silence preceding whatever my dad had to say in response to my “unacceptable” softball behavior. I don’t remember everything he said, but I didn’t cry often as a child. I cried on that car ride home. And then I cried more once I got home. But once I got out of the bathroom (I took a “shower” so that I could sit in the bathroom and cry some more), my dad was right there, waiting to apologize and to console me.

Those were some intense softball years. We can look back on those years and laugh at the ridiculous level of intensity, but up through the seventh grade, recreational softball was competitive—to put it lightly. Winning was king, and I remember feeling discouraged on many counts when I felt like I had let my dad down. Softball was more nerve-racking than fun. I was always nervous that I would mess up and disappoint my dad. Don’t get me wrong. My dad was a great coach. He was great at teaching the fundamentals, knew fun drills, and was enjoyable to be around. But when the subject of bitterness comes up, those softball years always re-surface. I’m really not bitter about it now, but Colossians 3:21 brings up a good point. I think that becoming “embittered,” or to be made to feel troubled or distressed, is something that a lot of children struggle with.

No matter your age, when one feels like he has not lived up to his parents’ expectations—not gotten the grades, made the cut, landed the job—it can be really discouraging. And while I think having high expectations for your children is completely justifiable (after all, they’re your kids, you should want the very best for them!), loving us (not necessarily “tough love!”) through our failures is vital for our emotional well-being.

I have never—not even for a tenth of a second—doubted that my dad loves me, but that didn’t stop me from feeling anxious before softball games. I can’t tell you how many times my dad has asked me to forgive him for his years of ultra-competitive softball coaching. And I’m totally over it (it’s great to have something to hold over his head, though!!). But since realizing his mixed-up priorities, my dad has been nothing but encouraging in my various sports endeavors. He wasn’t my coach while I played in high school, but I always enjoyed having him at my games! If I’m discouraged, he’s always there to support me. In the seventh grade, the last year he coached my team, we won the championship.

Winning the championship should have been exciting, but once again, I was in tears on the way home. This time I disappointed in my own performance. But to this day, my dad still reminds me of the vital role I played in those games. Without my parents’ support through my years of softball, various sports, and other activities, I don’t know where I’d be! It might sound strange, but I really think that going through those years of intensity, and then realizing that we had our eyes on the wrong prize, created a stronger bond between us. We were both able to grow as a result of seeing how our priorities were out of whack, and I think we’re closer because of it.

One summer, I had the chance to help my dad coach my younger sister’s third and fourth grade softball team. Getting to coach alongside Dad was a blast, and it’s so fun to see how laid back he’s become (youngest child syndrome). On multiple occasions, after playing against a team with an intense coach, we would laugh most of the way home, the conversation usually starting off with, “Who did that coach in the purple shirt remind you of?”

 

I wish I could say that was the last time I blew it with my children. I have had to go to each one of them more than once to ask for forgiveness as well as asking forgiveness from my Father. That event happened over a decade ago, and by God’s grace, Brittany and I have a great relationship. She even has a touch of my sarcastic humor. And sometimes right out of the blue she’ll say, “Hey, Dad, do you remember that time you made me cry in the car after that softball game?” Then she lets out her patented chuckle.

What do husbands and wives need in a relationship?  Sure, there are many things they want, but what do they really need?

In my study for marriage enrichment, I ran across a book by Willard Harley, Jr. called His Needs, Her Needs. Harley puts forth his researched take on the top five needs of men and women.

 

***Warning—Please Read***

Quite honestly, I find that husbands and wives talk about these things…but not with each other. In my marriage enrichment classes, I use Harley’s book as a discussion starter. And, man (!) do we have some discussion. Read Harley’s lists below and tell me where you agree, where you disagree, and where you are downright offended. Share these with your spouse and get the conversation started.

 

The Needs of a Woman (From Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs)

  1. Affection

Affection symbolizes security, protection, comfort, and approval. Harley says this is the first thing a wife cannot do without.

  1. Conversation

Conversation that satisfies a woman’s need must focus on the events of her day, people she may have encountered, and, most of all, how she feels about them.

  1. Honesty and Openness

Mistrust destroys security and oneness in a relationship. She needs to trust him totally.

  1. Financial Support

Harley says that women need to live comfortably. Wealth is not an issue. Care and protection are.

  1. Family Commitment

She needs him to be a good father. Harley recommends fifteen hours a week of quality family time. This amount always provokes a lot of discussion in our classes. Do you think this is possible/realistic?

 

The Needs of a Man (From Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs)

  1. Sexual Fulfillment

No surprise there…. A man feels cheated when he has agreed to limit his sexual experience to a wife who is unwilling to meet this vital need.

  1. Recreational Companion

Recreational activities develop fun and friendship. It is amazing how many couple do things recreationally before they are married, then don’t make the time for fun activities after they are married.

  1. An Attractive Spouse

Your husband is attracted to you. That’s why he married you. Taking care of yourself not only enhances your self-esteem but is important to your husband. Harley explains that this is a simple matter of pride. It may sound like a base motive, but it is all too real in most men.

  1. Domestic Support

A man’s home is his castle. He needs calm not chaos. Harley writes,

So deep is a husband’s need for domestic support from his wife that he often fantasizes about how she will greet him lovingly and pleasantly at the door, about well-behaved children who likewise act glad to see him and welcome him to the comfort of a well-maintained home. The fantasy continues as his wife urges him to sit down and relax before taking part in a tasty dinner, its aroma already wafting through the air. Conversation at dinner includes nothing controversial. Later the family goes out together for an early evening stroll, and he returns to put the children to bed with no hassle or fuss. Then he and his wife relax and talk together, perhaps watch a little television, and go to bed to make love, all at a reasonable hour.

A lot of wives may chuckle as they read the above scenario, but I assure you it is quite common in the fantasy lives of many husbands

                                                                                                -His Needs, Her Needs—134

 

My wife, Lori, thinks this statement from Harley is not only unrealistic, but puts too much pressure on a wife who is busy 24/7 balancing the balls of home, children, and possibly work. What do you think?

  1. Admiration

He needs her to be proud of him.

 

Okay, there are Harley’s top five needs for a man and a woman. Let me know where you think he is right on, missing the point, or out to lunch.

Prayer

Do you need prayer?

Email prayer@ronmoore.org.

RON’S SERMONS

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