Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sex; They Begin with Inappropriate Friendships

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:2

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It seems that far too often when  a spouse becomes close to a member of the opposite sex, other than their spouse, it begins to place them on a slippery slope.  In our years of counseling we have seen the results of what occurs when it was initially shared to a spouse, “We are just friends, that’s all.”  An adulterous affair, whether it be physical or emotional, begins with allowing a friendship to be inappropriate.  These friendships will grow an emotional attachment with people of the opposite sex. When this begins to grow it can spell danger and sometimes disaster for a marriage.

Here are three things to Avoid…Beware of the following:

Beware of private communications and intimate conversations with people of the opposite sex: The only person to share an intimate conversation with is your spouse, no one else.  Communication between a husband and wife is crucial.  If you feel it necessary to discuss private, personal matters about your relationship with your spouse to someone other than your spouse, especially a member of the opposite sex, then you are emotionally connecting with them instead of your spouse. By doing this, you are purposely causing the relationship with your spouse to atrophy. Which leads to the next one.

Beware of workmates who seem too concerned with your personal private life: Those are the ones that tell you “let me know if you need anything.” They are more interested in having you focus on them and relying on them instead of your spouse. These are dangerous people. They shroud themselves with the cloak of being a “good friend” and “one that will always be there for you.”  The key things to remember is just that, your personal private life is that-personal and private.

Beware of those that give you exaggerated and suggestive compliments about the way you look: Regardless of what is happening in your marriage don’t give the Devil a foothold in your marriage by falling victim to this trap. Let your workmates know there are things you won’t tolerate.  Suggestive comments are a pathway to flirting and there is no such thing as “harmless flirting” between members of the opposite sex.  It is especially harmful to have spouses engage in this activity outside of their marriage.

Remember this, keep a healthy physical, social and emotional distance between you and people of the opposite sex.  This is a safeguard for your marriage.  If necessary, seek marriage counseling to avoid these pitfalls in your marriage.

Again, adulterous affairs do not just happen overnight.  They are a slow and deliberate process that involves the choice of both individuals.

Stay connected emotionally, physically and spiritually to the one God has ordained for you…your spouse!

 

Joe & Kerry

 

 

 

Forgiveness…4 Principles to Apply to Your Life

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.”                  Saint Augustine

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Forgiveness is one of the most difficult and most misunderstood concepts in all of life. Refusal to do it can create a toxic root of bitterness in our hearts. A lack of forgiveness can wreck marriages, families, careers and most every other aspect of life, but embracing grace in its true form can bring freedom and healing.

This past weekend at our POM Communication Conference, we spoke in great depth on the communication skill of forgiveness. Not only receiving but granting it as well.  It is evident that so many of us struggle with the concept of Biblical Forgiveness, both extending as well as receiving.

Kerry and I would like to share 4 basic principles that we like to put into place on this journey of forgiveness.

To live a life of grace and forgiveness, do the following:

When you’ve blown it, own it!

We live in a world that loves to deflect accountability and assign blame somewhere else. We’d like to believe we’re always either the hero or the victim in every situation, but sometimes, we’re the bad guys! Never admitting fault doesn’t make you look strong; it makes you look foolish. Be willing to swallow your pride, confess your offense, and humbly seek forgiveness.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Recognize the difference between forgiveness and trust.

Some people reject forgiveness, because they wrongly believe it’s the same thing as trust and since they don’t trust the person, they assume they can’t forgive the person. Forgiveness can’t be earned, only given (that’s called grace). Trust, however, can’t be given, only earned (that’s called “Common Sense!”).

Follow the example of the world’s only perfect Forgiver.

The more you learn from Jesus, the more naturally forgiveness will flow. He is the embodiment of love and grace. We still live with the natural consequences of our decisions, but ultimately, the penalty of our sins was paid for by Him on the cross. Don’t beat yourself or others up for offenses that Jesus has literally taken a beating to forgive.

Give as much forgiveness as you’d like to receive.

We all want grace when we’ve messed up, but we’ve got to realize that grace flows both ways with equal measure. If you want to receive forgiveness, you must also offer forgiveness.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Think of it this way- We are not called to “wait” for that person to come and ask for forgiveness. No, we must actively forgive in the moment.
Better example yet, God sent His Son into a world that hated Him. If God had waited for the world to be “worthy” to receive Him, His Son would never have come.

In closing, Forgiveness is so unnatural an act that it takes practice to perfect it. In fact, it is rarely the case that we are able to forgive “one time” and the matter is settled, more often than not, we must relinquish our bitterness a dozen or so times, continually choosing to release the offender from our judgment.

So, today, what do you choose?

Joe & Kerry

Practice Biblical Conflict

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Last year I was blessed and honored to have officiated 6 weddings.  Kerry and I spent time with each of those couples as their Pre-Marriage Counselors.  We were privileged to spend time with them and journey with them as they prepared for their marriage and life together as husband and wife. To be able to do Pre-Marriage Counseling as Husband/Wife and to also be a firsthand witness to the genesis of each of these relationships-from courtship to becoming one as husband and wife, is cherished and priceless.

During the 12 week journey with each couple, the primary focus of discussion usually turns to conflict in their relationship and how to deal with it in a Biblical manner. Kerry and I tell each couple that Biblical Conflict is good and necessary to grow in their marriage; however, we so often are not taught what this looks like nor how to fight fair. One of my favorite “Joeisms” is to say, “If every day were sunshine, you would have a desert. Storms bring growth and new life; however, you need to know how to prune and manage that growth so it will not overrun your marriage.” The need of effective communication thus in turn leads to how well your conflict is dealt with and what growth comes from it: nurturing or destructive.

Gary Thomas wrote a book, The Sacred Search-A Couple’s Conversation Guide, as a guide for pre-marriage counseling. This has become our primary tool we use with our couples we journey with. In chapter 6 of his book, Constructive Conflict, Gary delves deep into the attitudes and actions we each take as individuals with regards to conflict. I would like to share with you his closing paragraph in that chapter.

When it comes to marital conflict, there are many unhealthy forms of communication—acts that make the conflict worse. Let’s agree to reject all these unhealthy methods of relating:
A.Hurtful Words. So much harm can be done in so little time if we don’t train our tongues (see James 3:1–12). Name-calling or blasting back with hateful things has never solved a single marital conflict. It has never served the cause of love. It has never fostered intimacy.
B. Stonewalling. This is such a harmful and common practice. It’s passive-aggressiveness taken to a malicious level. When you agree to marry someone, you agree ahead of time to work through conflict. Stonewalling (the silent treatment or withdrawal) is essentially renouncing your wedding vows. Some introverted personality types may need a moment to themselves to collect their thoughts and pray, but this is different from refusing to engage with your spouse. It’s putting off resolution indefinitely, and that’s just wrong.
C. Bringing Up The Past. Adopt this mantra: “One conflict at a time.” There is no use trying to bring three previous fights into the current one.
D. Acting Like You’re Above Being Wrong. In most conflicts, two people are both behaving inappropriately. One might be 95 percent in the wrong, but there is still 5 percent to be owned. Your spouse’s 95 percent doesn’t excuse your 5 percent. Seek to grow, not to win, in every argument. Own that 5 percent.

As said at the beginning, this is a journey that takes time and practice on both individuals and it is not only necessary in a marriage, but in any form of relationships. Praying that we all heed and own James’ teachings in his letter; James 4:1-3. Seek the Lord and His counsel as you then seek forgiveness from God and then from the one you are in conflict with.

In His Grip~

Joe

More Than a Parent’s Rage…

“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4  
In our Sunday morning Bible Study we have been going through the book of Ephesians, applying its principles and instructions into our marriages and families, as well as into our personal lives. These past two Sundays we have spent time in one verse from Ephesians, 6:4. 

Verse 4 instructs us not to “provoke or exasperate your children.” The Greek word for provoke is parorgizo. This simply means to provoke to wrath or to exasperate another. Both wrath and exasperate come from the root word anger. It would not take too much of an in-depth study of human and family behavior to shed some basic insight on how we might exasperate our children and provoke them to anger. We so often will see this as an extreme outburst towards our children, an uncontrolled momentary burst of anger, then it’s done. However, as we truly step back and evaluate our parenting, we may just see this picture of “provoking and exasperating” in the minutia of our everyday parenting. The following examples will give us a good starting point for understanding the command that Paul shares with us in verse 4. This is not an end all list, nor is it meant to “guilt” you as a parent or grandparent. Take time in prayer and reflect on the following list, take time to ask God to reveal to you as to which of those 8, or maybe you have another one, you are in the habit of doing towards your children.  Ask God to help you stop in that behavior/action and then move towards reconciliation with your children and then begin a new path of Biblical discipline and instruction in the Lord.  

1. Overprotecting Children: Parents who do everything for their children and do not let them gain any degree of independence or self-determination.

2. Over Disciplining Children: Parents who overly restrict where children can go and what they can do, who never trust them to do things on their own, and who continually question their judgment. Certainly, a proper amount of this is necessary. We are talking about overdoing it.

3. Expecting More Than The Child Can Ever Perform: Perfectionistic parents for whom the child’s performance is never good enough.

4. Expecting Less of Them Than They Can Perform: Parents who discourage the child’s decisions and dreams—never approving, affirming, or encouraging.

5. Failing to Sacrifice for Their Children: Parents who make the children feel as though they are an intrusion and burden.

6. Verbal and/or Physical Abuse: Parents who abuse their children, either by actions, negligence, words, or attitudes.

7. Legalism: Parents who use the Bible, religion, or God to browbeat the children into behavior that is not required by scriptural teachings.

8. Imbalance: Parents who fail to balance affirmation and discipline, who affirm without discipline, who discipline without affirmation, or who do neither.

These eight things will provoke a child to anger; they will exasperate a child, and we would be well-advised to avoid them.

Joe