SHARPening Your Marriage

At the start of our marriage, our vision for marital success was limited by our pursuit of selfish desires.  We often bring our own “baggage” into the marriage covenant, but remembering that marriage is a covenant that we make with God is key to growing as a Christian and as spouse.  Once we realized that our spouse was not created for our own pleasures, and that marriage was more about giving than getting, we started to grope around for help to repair our twisted dreams.  We started ingesting volumes of materials on marriage until we felt like self-help junkies.  Applying all that material became a real challenge, so we began to forget what we had read and then resorted to the flawed reflex responses that were programmed within us from our separate dysfunctional childhoods.

Realizing that we were getting nowhere, we cried out to God to help us make lasting changes in our marriage relationship.  God helped us organize what we had learned and through the help of the Holy Spirit, we were able to recall needed techniques in a crisis.  God has used every trial and success to give us stepping-stones to a higher marital experience and to make our marriage SHARP.  Although it is not all-inclusive, this acronym has served as a quick reference to check the barometer of our marriage.

Sweet communication is needed to keep love alive at home.  If our words are harsh, critical, demeaning or full of gossip, they will wound a person to the point of creating barriers between the couple that are difficult to remove.  Negative words also create a negative atmosphere in the home making it less of a place where angels love to dwell.  Words of affirmation, encouragement, inspiration and words that seek to build your relationship and spouse, make for openness and love to be experienced.  Death and life are in the power of the tongue(1) so we need to carefully consider how we speak to one another.

Humor is indispensable and can turn moments of frustration and deep challenges into fun learning experiences and profound oneness.  Early in our marriage, a lost set of keys could turn into a nightmare of accusations and blame.  One Saturday morning when David could not find his belt for his dress pants, he stormed about using accusatory words in an attempt to have others assist him on his seek and find mission.  In the midst of a tense moment, our two-year-old son wisely asked, “Daddy shouldn’t you pray and ask God to help you?”  Convicted at this moment, the grown man smiled and said, “Yes, son, you are right and I am sorry for the way that I have behaved.  Let’s pray and ask Jesus to help us.”  As soon as Dad and son got of their knees, the belt was found, to which our son joyfully exclaimed, “Hallelujah, now we can go to church!”  At that moment, we all laughed.  Since that incident, we have learned to smile, laugh and allow God to be the keeper of our attitudes.

Acts of kindness on a regular basis keeps a marriage thriving.  Daily as we seek to give of ourselves to show that our spouse is special to us nurtures a loving environment.  Doing a chore for your spouse while maintaining a cheerful disposition, paying attention to their day and just jumping in and helping out where needed are actions that breed romance, deep appreciation and unity.            

Repentance is paramount in preventing cold, distant communication and can even repair marital brokenness.  We will all make mistakes, but being able to acknowledge your wrong, confessing the misdeed and then developing a plan as a couple to keep the error from recurring, while simultaneously working on a plan to grow from the mistakes, can add significant depth to a Godly relationship.

Prayer and Praise round off the ingredients that have kept our marriage invigorated.  Daily holding hands and praying together (praying for and with your spouse) has been one of the richest experiences in our marriage.  As the saying goes, you can’t remain at odds with each other when you are regularly praying for one another.  In addition to prayer, the continual praise and thanksgiving to God for what He has done(2) has been monumental for our growth as we have allowed praise to God to overflow onto our spouse with praises for them instead of complaining.

Overall, in order to keep your marriage sharp and achieve true marital success you must practice the presence of Christ to guide you on this journey.  Our marriage is far from perfect, but if we keep our hands in God’s hands, we will stay on the right path.

Pastor David and Jacquelyn Guerrero are co-founders of Rekindle the Flame Ministries and reside in Central Wisconsin with their four children.

(1)    Proverbs 18:21

(2)    1 Thess. 5:18

The Beauty of Being Content

Philip Parham tells the story of a rich industrialist who was disturbed to find a fisherman sitting lazily beside his boat. “Why aren’t you out there fishing?” he asked.

“Because I’ve caught enough fish for today,” said the fisherman.
“Why don’t you catch more fish than you need?’ the rich man asked.
“What would I do with them?”

“You could earn more money,” came the impatient reply, “and buy a better boat so you could go deeper and catch more fish. You could purchase nylon nets, catch even more fish, and make more money. Soon you’d have a fleet of boats and be rich like me.”

The fisherman asked, “Then what would I do?”
“You could sit down and enjoy life,” said the industrialist.
“What do you think I’m doing now?” the fisherman replied as he looked placidly out to sea.

Being content with our present situation isn’t always easy.  It is too tempting to look across “the street” and say “hey, wouldn’t it be nice if I could have a life just like_______?”

At other times we look at our circumstance (whatever it may be) and wish that our circumstance could be better.  Now there is nothing wrong with improving one’s present situation but it is quite another to allow it to consumes us, that it paralyzes us and keeps us from making the best of a present situation or even the best of life.

Contentment is choosing to be happy with things as they are.  It is freedom from the folly and frustration of unsatisfied desire.  Contentment comes, not because the circumstances of our lives are “ideal,” but because they are as God, in His love and wisdom, allows them to be at the moment (Philippians 4:11).)

In order to be truly content we have to come to the point in our lives where we surrender our will and our circumstance to God allowing His sovereignty to have full sway in our lives.  How do we do this?  Let me share with you five principles that I have learned and that have worked for myself and others.

First of all we must, establish a reasonable standard of living. Since there is no universal plan that is suitable for everyone, this must be a standard established among yourself or if you are married and have a family, a husband, wife, and God.  It is good to sit down analyze what you have coming in financially, the possessions you have, what you would like to have in the future etc.,  and determine how you will live in relationship to these things.

 

Secondly, you must establish a habit of giving. Christians need to be involved with the blessing of doing what they can to meet the needs of others.  Being a giver i.e. having a generous spirit helps keeps the mind off of ourselves and onto the needs of others.  Doing so, relieves us of being self focused and may I add self centered.   Every individual and Christian family should be directly involved with some project that focuses on the needs of others or another family. There are many Christian organizations that act as a funnel for such assistance be it just plain time or monetary support. If you can’t be personally involved, this is the best alternative. “At this present time your abundance being a supply for their want, that their abundance also may become a supply for your want, that there may be equality; as it is written, ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no  lack’ ” (2 Corinthians 8:14-15).

Thirdly we must establish priorities. Many people are discontented, not because they aren’t doing well but because others are doing better. “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you’ “ (Hebrews 13:5). Too often we let the urgent things take priority over the important things.  We must always remember that God has promised to be with us.  He stands by our side waiting to be our provider.  Let us allow Him to be just that, and accept that which He provides.

Next, we need to develop a thankful attitude.  Thankfulness is a state of mind, not an accumulation of assets. Until we can truly thank God for what we have and be willing to accept that as God’s provision for our lives, contentment never will be possible.  An Attitude of gratitude is one which recognizes that although things could be better things also could be so much worse.

Two men were walking through a field one day when they spotted an enraged bull. Instantly they darted toward the nearest fence.  The storming bull followed in hot pursuit, and it was soon apparent they wouldn’t make it. 

Terrified, the one shouted to the other, “Put up a prayer, John. We’re in for it!” 

John answered, “I can’t. I’ve never made a public prayer in my life.”

“But you must!” implored his companion. “The bull is catching up to us.”

 “All right,” panted John, “I’ll say the only prayer I know, the one my father used to repeat at the table: ‘O Lord, for what we are about to receive, make us truly thankful.'”

Let us learn to be truly thankful to receive what God has specially designed for us. He always knows best.

Lastly, we should reject a fearful spirit.  Dedicated Christians get trapped into hoarding because they fear the “What if?” of retirement, disability, unemployment, or economic collapse. Obviously, God wants us to consider these things and even plan for them, within reason. When fear dictates to the point that we live in constant worry or giving to God’s work is hindered, living life foolish risks are assumed and worry becomes the norm rather than the exception. A Christian must consciously reject this attitude of fear. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Psalm 68: 19 says, “Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits, even the God of our salvation.”  Each day if we take a moment to slow down and look at our lives through the lens of God’s grace, we will come to see our blessings, count them one by one, and truly realize that the God of our salvation has loaded us with many things we can be thankful for.  It is then that we can experience the beauty of being content.

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David Guerrero is the co-founder and speaker/director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries. RTFM is a non profit 501(c)3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ in experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, life coaching, seminars, conferences, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the web at www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information on how we can help you your church or your organization. Also please do contact us if you like to be on our mailing list.

Marriage Secrets

“Wives submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:21

“Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

I heard some of this before in a sermon and thought it was interesting enough to share.

We hear the verses mentioned above quite often. However, some tend to focus more on the SUBMIT part of the wife and less focus is put on the LOVE part of the husband. Notice that the wife is not commanded to love her husband.  You won’t find those words anywhere in the bible. Isn’t that interesting?

Yes, we are all commanded to love one another, but husbands specifically are commanded to love their wives.  So much so that if they don’t treat their wives right their prayers will be hindered!!  1 Peter  3:7   Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

But our great God knows what He is doing.  He knows it is easy to submit to someone who truly loves you – especially if they love you the way Christ loves the church. How does Christ love the church? Well, He loved us first. (1John 4:19) He sacrificed His life for us. He is compassionate and faithful. (Lamentations 3:22, 23)  And these are just a few examples of how He loves us.

The Bible also gives a great definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  “Love is patient; love suffers long, and is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs.  Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. Bears all things, believes all things, it always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

This love thing must be pretty serious if He had to spell it out for us like this.  In fact “love” is a major theme in the entire Bible; some would say it is the only theme in the Bible.  We are given explicit details on what love is and is not.  We find no such detailed instructions on how to submit, though.  Why is that? Is submission just intrinsic for women? Or did He just know that when loved correctly submission is quite natural?

Bottom line, God knows what He is doing and He holds marriage in high regard –Hebrews 13:4 Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the bed be undefiled. Matthew 19:6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together let no man tear apart.”

When you hear those couples who have been married for 50+ years talk about the “secret” to their marriage, you will hear them say the same exact things you find in 1 Corinthians 13.

“We never gave up.  Not even through unemployment and other trials. ” – which is “Love bears all things.”

“We didn’t go to bed angry with each other” – which is “Love is not rude or easily angered”

“We apologized to each other and forgave each other” – which is “Love keeps no record of wrongs.” (Also in 1 Peter 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.)

“We listened to each other and sacrificed for each other.” – which is “Love is not self-seeking and always protects.”

“Divorce was never an option for us.” – which is “Love perseveres.” (Also In Malachi 2:16 you will find “I hate divorce,” says the Lord God.)

There are no marriage secrets – it is all explicitly laid out for us in the Bible, as so many things are.  Are we following it?

by Beatrize Valerius

RTFM is a non profit 501(c)3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ is experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, life coaching, seminars, conferences, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the web at http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information how we can help you your church or your organization. Contact us if you like to be on our mailing list.

Building Lasting Change

Last time we examined the initial steps that are necessary to make change happen in a marriage. In order to set off in the right direction of lasting change, we need to pray that God will help us to look within ourselves so that we can see the situation as it really is. Asking God to help us examine our own hearts, as well as asking
His Spirit to change us, is crucial in addressing change as He sees appropriate and best. Second, we need to treat each other in love, that is, to consider our mate’s needs ahead of our own, for love conquers all. Third, we must confess our own wrongdoing to God as well as to our partner, because admitting our own faults makes our prayer life much more effectual, and it creates the platform for reconciliation (James 5; Matthew 19). Today, let’s look at the heart of change.

What is Causing the Problem?

The Bible is sufficient to address all human woes. Conflict is one aspect of humanity that many of us have a difficult time addressing and handling. However, through the inspired word of God, the apostle James gets to the root of our problem:

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:1-3).

Here lies the root of our problem and at the same time the solution to our dilemma of change. The root of the problem is our heart. Our selfish desires cause us to want to have our own personal needs met at all cost and ahead of the needs of others. And therein is our problem― self! The Bible tells us that human behavior is like
this: if someone gets in the way of my accomplishing or achieving my personal goals, there will be WAR! In the midst of conflict or a difficult situation we need to ask God to help us examine our own heart, asking Him to aid us in seeing whether there are any selfish desires that are getting in the way of my being the person He desires for me to be in Christ. Self can be so dangerous.

For example, one day I arrived home and could not get my car in the garage because my wife had parked too far to the left side of the garage. It was cold, snowy, and slippery, and I did not feel like enduring the difficulty of the weather. At that moment I had a choice. I could either submit my disappointment to God, and ask Him for grace and wisdom to deal with the difficulty or I could ruminate on how my expectations were not met. Well, what did I do?

Every step toward my front door was filled with the thoughts: “How often do I have to tell her that she needs to park on her side?” I continued, “Doesn’t she get it?” Then it got worse, “That selfish woman just doesn’t care!” The outcome of this wrong way of handling the problem and thinking resulted in my eventually getting through the door and “letting her have it!”  After the Holy Spirit fully convicted me of my wrong, I sought forgiveness from my lovely wife which she graciously gave me. However, the Holy Spirit also led me to see that it was “self” that took over as I insisted in my desire to have the cars parked a certain way as well as being free from any inconvenience of walking on snow and ice, a desire that overwhelmed me to the point of behaving unlike Christ. I continue to learn from God and His word how to handle my emotions and conflict in a manner that glorifies His name.

So What Do I Do with my Emotions and Desires?

I have learned that the way to victory over conflict is to pause, pray, and seek God’s word in order to respond correctly (i.e. as He would want me to respond).

How does this work? Well, pausing in the midst of conflict is the key. This may not come easily, but with practice it will become natural over time. As people we must learn the art of waiting before we respond to conflict. I have taught my children something called the S.T.O.P. principle (which, by the way, is good for us adults as well). I tell them that before we engage in any activity or respond to a situation, we must S.T.O.P. and think it through. It goes something like this:

S = is this Safe?
T = is this Truthful?
O = is this Obedient to God?
P = is this Pleasing to the LORD?

If my response can pass the yes test to all of the above, then I can move forward with what I have decided to do. I have found that when I give myself the time to think what is facing me this way, God can have the time He needs to reason with me in a way that leads me to respond in a manner that lifts up Christ and glorifies His name.

As I work through my emotions, I must also pray asking God to help me understand what I am feeling and why am I feeling this way. Am I angry? If so, why? Am I jealous? If so, why? Do I feel disrespected? If so, why? Am I afraid? If so, why? As God helps me to analyze my feelings and discover what they are and why I am feeling the way I do, He leads me to the place where I discover either that I am being selfish or that I have a legitimate reason for feeling the way I do. My next step in the process leads me to respond in a way that brings reconciliation and healing to the conflict: turning to God’s word for how I should respond.

Seeking God’s word is pivotal to handling any difficulty. In the midst of conflict what God has to say is an absolute when it comes to resolving the issues that are before us. As we honor God’s word, He will honor us.  As we honor God’s word, we can always expect the best outcome for “all things work together for the good, to them that love the LORD, to those that called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Let me give you an example.

One day Sheila called me. She was angry that her husband Larry was not leading as he should in spiritual things at home. As a result she had decided that she had had enough and was going to leave him due to his lack of being a good example to the children. “All he does,” she said, “is go to work and then spend the rest of his time watching television or hanging out with his friends.” Granted that Larry had some problems and did need to experience change. However, Sheila needed to do some soul searching as well. First, she needed to look at what it was that she desired that she was not getting. In other words, she needed to ask the question: “Why am I so angry?” As she answered this question, she then needed to ask herself: “Am I responding the way God desires for me to respond?” In other words: What I am about to do (my response to my situation), is it safe? It is truthful (to God, my marriage, and to being a godly woman)? Is it (my response) obedient to God’s word? You see, Sheila needed to respond in a manner that speaks God’s love, His choice, and His desire for her marriage. Sheila needed to consult God’s Word thoroughly for how she was responding and how she should have responded to her situation.

I know that sometimes the choices we have to make are hard and work against the grain of our flesh. However, my friend, the Christian life is not about living in the flesh; it is about living in the Spirit. Biblical application to our situations will only bring God’s blessing and peace. Biblical application to our situation will extend to us spiritual growth and maturity that is out of this world!

Building Lasting Change

Change is hard. However, applying God’s word to the difficult situations in our life can help us make the changes that we need to make. The outcome will be out of this world. The first steps that we need to make in order to see the change in others is to prayerfully ask God what it is in ourselves that we need to allow Him to transform. We must then adjust our attitudes by His grace. After that we must confess any wrongs that we may have done. We must then further analyze the problem as God does by looking at what is motivating our response by looking at why we are thinking, acting, and responding the way we are. As we S.T.O.P. to consider this and seek to employ biblical principles to resolving the conflict before us, God will perform marvelous acts of change in our lives, and our marriages will become a place of heaven on earth.
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David Guerrero is the founder and director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries. RTFM is a non profit 501(c)3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ is experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, seminars, conferences, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the web at http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information how we can help you your church or your organization. Contact us if you like to be on our mailing list.

Initiating Positive Change

In my travels as a seminar speaker I meet many people whose marriages are on the rocks. The main line I often hear is “If only he (or she) would change, things would be different.” What then follows is the mentioning of several things that should change in their spouse that would then make the marriage better. In the next two articles, I will attempt to share what can be done to initiate positive change in our marriages.

Treating One Another with Love

A very wise person once made a profound statement: “if you ever look over at your spouse and wish that he or she were a different person, treat them like the person that you desire them to be, and they will become that person.” This is so true! Think about it: this is how God takes the first step in effecting change in our lives. The Bible declares that while we were yet enemies of God, He was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself (Romans 5:8,10). God took the initiative to cause the needed change in our lives by first demonstrating His love towards us so that we might experience life-saving transformation and salvation. God’s first move of love was to send His Son to die for each of us so that we might be saved.

The Apostle Paul tells us that Christ was treated as we deserved to be treated so that we might be treated as He deserved (2 Corinthians 8:9). God made a conscious choice to treat us as people that we certainly were not, so that we could become people that He desired us to become—people that would reflect His love! John puts it this way: “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). What awesome power there is in love!

As we treat our spouses as people we would desire them to be, our acts of love, respect, kindness, sacrifice, and dignity will have the power to transform their lives, thus increasing the potential that they will become the person we desire them to be. You may ask: “Are you saying that one person can help improve a marriage?” My answer is: Yes, my friend, one partner can improve a marriage. Just as one person (Jesus) improved our human status, condition, and lives, we too through the power of His Spirit can have power to influence change in the one to whom we are married simply by the way we treat them.

The First Step of Prayer

I have found that a good first step in effecting change is prayer. You may ask: What should I pray for or about? Well, why not try beginning with Psalms 139:23-24: “Search me O God, and know my heart: Try me and know my anxieties; And see if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.” You see, oftentimes there is something in us that needs to be changed first in order for us to see and impact a change in others.

As we allow God to point out and help us change the things we need to adjust in our lives, our hearts will be transformed by His love, and we can then move forward in our marriage relationship with the sweet disposition and approach of Jesus. This change in us and the new approach that He gives us will make life in our home bear the fruit of His transforming grace. As we pray, we should ask God to remove from our hearts any negative feelings that we have towards our spouse and to heal our hearts. Listen to the counsel of the Apostle Paul: “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:31-32)

As we ask and allow God to remove from our hearts the emotions that are destroying our attitude and behavior, we will be able to see others through His eyes of love, mercy, and compassion, and treat them as He would. As we do this, the results will be tremendous.

Confession

The next step we can take is to confess any wrongs that we have done. Confession is not only good for the soul, it is a good ingredient for relationships. The Bible tells us that in order for true healing to take place in our relationships, we must confess the sins we have committed against one another.

A truly humble person will acknowledge his or her wrongs and ask forgiveness for how they have or are contributing to the problem. You will be amazed at what will happen when you approach your spouse with an attitude of admitting your faults as well as how you have contributed to the problems in your marriage, adding to that what you intend to do so that things can improve.

Will They Ever Change?

To make changes is not an easy task. However, there is One who can wonderfully and masterfully help us make the changes we need to make: His name is Jesus. The first steps that we need to take to see change in others is to prayerfully ask God what it is in ourselves that we need to allow Him to transform, and then to permit Him to do the work of transforming those areas of our lives. We must then adjust our attitudes by His grace, and finally we must confess any wrongs that we may have done. As we employ these biblical steps, God will perform marvelous acts of change in our lives, and our marriages will become a place of heaven on earth. Next time we will look at some more principles that we can follow to build lasting change in our marriages.
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David Guerrero is the director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries, a nonprofit 501c3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ in experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, seminars, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the Web at http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information on how we can help you or your organization.

Rekindle the Flame

As you read the first three chapters of the Bible, it is very clear that God has created us for relationship. The first relationship is with Him (divine), and then the second is the human relationship beginning with husband and wife. As evidenced in the book of beginnings (Genesis), Satan’s objective from the beginning has been to destroy those relationships.

Satan’s Objective

Satan’s first objective is to get us to doubt God’s word. As we examine Genesis, we discover that the first step in leading Eve to sever her relationship with God was to cause her to doubt and then confuse what God had said (Genesis 3:1-5). Doubting what God says confuses us and then leads to conflict in our relationship with Him and our relationship with others. I read a quote once that said, “a man at peace with God and his fellowman cannot be made miserable.” While I see this to be true, I have come to learn that if we are at peace with God, then we will be a peace with our fellow man.

Our fellowship with God begins with His word (Romans 10:8-17). If we can’t stand on what God says, we are then open to listening to other voices and following bad counsel. It happened to Eve, and it can happen to us today. We must remember that all of our relationships and how we carry them out must be rooted in the word of God. Examining Genesis, chapter 3, we discover that Satan worked on Eve’s senses. As Eve listened (hearing) to Satan, this lead her to see (eyes) that what he offered her was appealing. Eve then “took of the fruit” (touched) and ate of it (taste). The fruit must have smelled good too (remember, we are talking
about the garden of Eden here).

The same is true today. Our relationship with God is damaged when we lose our spiritual senses as we fall prey to Satan’s cunning and subtle devices. As we listen (hear) to advice not rooted in God’s word, view (see) harmful programming/objects that damage our mind, partake (taste and touch) of ungodly activities or counsel, breathe in the aroma (smell) of wrong and, at times, sinful practices, our relationships, both human and divine, erode away leaving us empty. Emptiness is Satan’s goal to get us to seek more of what he has to offer us. Often times those who are empty continue to seek bad habits in order to fill that void in their heart. However, all that Satan has to offer us is nakedness with the only comfort being the temporary highs and eventual lows of this world’s “fig leaves” (Genesis 3:7).

God Seeks to Rekindle our Flame

Thank God that the Genesis account  of Adam and Eve (the fall of humanity) doesn’t end there. Once Adam and Eve were lured into brokenness in their relationship with God and one another (Genesis 3:10-13), God sought to revive His relationship with them. The Bible says that God came to them; He sought them out (Genesis 3: 8). You see in the midst of our broken relationships God will seek us out and attempt to get our attention. His desire is to help us begin or renew our walk with Him.

God’s Objective

God’s has a plan for our relationships and that plan is reconciliation and restoration. He seeks to rekindle our flame by helping us see our need for His covering in our lives. He awakens us to our need for Him as He walks in our direction. As we realize that our emptiness has come from our rejection of His presence and power in our lives, we are then open to receive His power to heal. The healing he offers us is the healing of our hearts and the restoring of our relationships (Genesis 3:14:21; Romans 5:1; Hebrews 8:10-12).

Our Flame Rekindled

In our relationships we CAN experience wellness, restoration, reconciliation and joy. This is what the Gospel is all about. How can this happen? The first thing we must do is respond to God’s presence. As God comes to us (through whatever means He chooses), we must respond positively to His leading and take His advice.

The second thing you can do is to confess your sin(s). James puts it this way: “Confess your sins to one another … that you may be healed” (5:16). Confessing your sin will bring healing. But you first must confess your sin to God and then one you have offended, which has resulted in a broken relationship.

The third thing you can do is pray for those who are in relationship with you. In the scripture texts just mentioned, James says we ought to “pray for one another, that you may be healed.” Oh how different the outcome would have been if Eve had prayed to God when the tempter came; if Adam had prayed when Eve came to entice him to sin. Even so with us—our relationship with God and one another can have much more satisfying and rewarding outcomes if we maintain a spirit and attitude of prayer. Not only must we pray for those with whom we are in relationship. We must pray before an offense or rift takes place, but also during and after the process of restoration. Prayer and prayer alone can create and preserve reconciliation, restoration, and wellness.

Experience the Flame of the Spirit.

Jesus said that “I am come to send fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled” (Luke 12:49). The fire He was speaking of was the Holy Spirit’s presence and power in our lives. Jesus longs to pour out His Spirit into our lives and into our relationships. It is with the Spirit’s power and presence in our lives that our relationship with God, in our homes, with our families, friends, at the work place, and in our communities can reflect His love and defeat Satan’s purpose of ruining humanity.

David Guerrero is speaker/director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries. R.T.F.M holds regular retreats to help couples rebuild and strengthen their marriages. If you would like information on retreats, call (715) 310-2196 or visit us at http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org.

First Steps to Revitalizing Your Marriage

As a counselor with a family oriented ministry, I often meet couples who are struggling in their relationships.  Often times, from their perspective, the situation is hopeless and they feel or think that there is only one of two alternatives to take: divorce or separation. Usually what I see is hope.  I see hope because they have taken the initiative to call Rekindle the Flame Ministries to set up an appointment to see a Christian counselor.  As I listen to couples quarrel and explain to me their “irreparable” situation, generally speaking, I have discovered there are six initial steps they can take in order to begin to turn their situation around.

The first step is to help them to see the value of being patient with one another.  The Apostle Paul, in the book of 1 Corinthians, tells us that “love is patient.”  What usually happens is that couples have allowed the busyness of life to make them intolerable of other people.  This includes their spouse. Work, church responsibilities, school schedules, etc., often take precedence in our lives, and we neglect the most important appointment (second to God) that we must make — time with our spouses.

Couples (especially husbands) need to realize that they are called to dwell with one another with understanding (1 Peter 3:7).   This can only happen in an environment where two people see the value of being patient with each other and taking the time to really open the lines of communication with each other.  This requires  a determination and application of consistency as well. As husbands and wives, we must realize that our spouses are not perfect, and be willing to work through the differences and challenges that present themselves in a prayerfully patient manner.  As we do so, God will begin to effect the change that is needed in our relationships.

The second item that is of essential importance is communication.  Recent divorce statistics tell us that 80% of all marriages that end in divorce are due to ineffective communication.   It is amazing to me that, although we have become a high tech society with advanced communication devices, we live in a time in which communication skills are probably at their worst.   Let’s face it, today’s technology has created a very impersonal environment in which people don’t have to talk face-to-face with each other or can tune each other out very easily.  This environmental thwarting of communication skills has greatly affected the marriage relationship.  Couples should do all they can to work on and achieve good open-communication skills.  This leads me to my next point.

When communicating with our spouses, we must be “swift to hear, and slow to speak” (James 1:19).  Good communication starts with learning how to listen to what the other person is trying to say. The best way to accomplish this is to agree on a time and place to communicate.  Second, you must then agree on which person will talk first limiting each person’s turn to no more than about 20 minutes (I advise you to limit your discussion to one or two issues apiece, or you will drown yourselves in too many issues to address at once).   After you agree upon these two things, each person must then commit to allowing the person to talk, uninterrupted, while you take notes on what you believe you hear the other person is saying.  Write each issue down, and then when the person is done sharing his or her feelings, repeat what you have written down to see if you have understood the concern(s) correctly. Adjust your understanding as the other person clears things up for you.  The objective is to get a clear understanding of the issue(s). Each person should take a turn doing this.  When you are done, each person should have written out a list of concerns that need to be addressed.  Now comes the good part.

The fourth step is to begin talking about possible solutions to each concern. Each person should share a possible solution, and it should be written out.  A critical principle here is never to minimize or belittle a solution that is bought to the table.  Never, never make fun of what another believes may contribute to solving a problem.  Simply write the solution down and ask why they believe the solution they have provided can assist as a remedy to the problem.  I have found that when people believe that their ideas are respected as part of a process, it builds positive relationships.  After both sides are done, you should agree  on which solution(s) is (are) best for each given concern that was presented. A critical piece to this step is to come up with an agreeable plan(s) to address each concern and solve your “problems.”

The fifth step is to begin to have what I call “a date night.”   In most cases the busyness of life leads many couples to stop giving each other the time necessary to nurture their relationship.  The results are deleterious as love for one another slowly grows cold.  We cannot expect to maintain a marriage relationship without nurturing one another.  Without the proper nurturing, what happens is that resentment and bitterness grow in the heart. I have discovered that many problems in marriage are the result of the lack of time essential to a good and godly marriage.  To prevent and/or reverse the damage done by this lack of time each week (or as often as you can), take turns preparing some time that you will spend together.  To make it more exciting, allow for suspense.  To do this, set a principle in place that allows for each person to arrange the time, place, and activity of the “date” without telling the other person the details.   Seek to please your spouse as you make these arrangements.

The final piece in beginning to revitalize your marriage is accountability. In any attempt to grow or change, accountability must be involved.  Mature individuals must learn that we are accountable to God and to one another to fulfill the commitments that we say we are going to keep.  Couples must lay out a plan of accountability as a means to check on their progress as well as to keep them realizing the seriousness of their relationships.  Too many times even in Christian churches and homes, people exert an independent rebellious spirit that says, “I am accountable to no man [or woman]!” At other times the other extreme is exhibited where we feel that we cannot address the issues at hand because of the “who am I to say anything?” syndrome.  This is wrong as we must speak the truth and address the issues that are getting in the way of having a God-honoring marriage. However, we must always speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

Revitalizing a marriage takes good, hard, godly work. As we cooperate with the Holy Spirit, we can be patient with one another.  We can also allow the Spirit to open our hearts and lives to effective communication.  As God does this in our lives, He can aid us to be quick to listen as He leads us to a plan that will best remedy and improve our marriage relationship.  This plan should include allowing God as well as each other to hold us accountable for the commitments that we make.  As we employ these principles in a Christlike spirit, we will see how love truly conquers all (1 Corinthians 13).

Pastor David Guerrero is the founder and director of Rekindle the Flame Ministries. RTFM is a non profit 501(c)3 Christian organization that seeks to aid the body of Christ in experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, life coaching, seminars, training, and newsletters. Please contact us at (715) 310-2196 or on the web at: http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org  for more information how we can help you or your organization.

Life’s Purpose

The Apostle Paul made a most profound statement when he penned these words found in Philippians 3:10 and I Corinthians 2:2:

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection”

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.”

It is abundantly clear that Paul’s life’s purpose was to know Christ.  He sought to now Christ personally and how He was at work in life circumstances. This pursuit of discovery was the aim of Paul’s life.

Paul just didn’t seek to simply know Christ for the first time, but to continually seek to know what Christ wanted from his life each and every day, as well as to experience Christ power in the course of daily living. Paul determined to discover God’s will and purpose for his challenges and trials. Paul understood that it was through difficulties that God journeys with us in order that He might help us to see our need and help us in our need to become more like Christ.

This is life’s purpose – to become more like Christ. So often we view life by what we have or what status we have in life. However, in heavens economy it is who we are or who we are becoming that God is most concerned with. When we think about it, isn’t this what matters most? Isn’t this what should determine what we do and how we do it?

They other day someone who is a life coach client of mine called me and was stuck. He was perplexed as he did not know what he should do. He wasn’t sure what he should do as it related to his future. Should he take a job offer in another state or should he stay where he is now? When our conversation was done, the bottom line came to the surface when I asked him: “In God’s call in your life, who has He called you to be?” There was a long silence then a “hmm, that’s a good question.” Then, in answering that question my dear friend began to make his choice of what he was to do. You see in responding to who God wants us to be we can effectively respond to what we will do. When we discover who God desires us to become we can face life’s challenges with the great expectation that what we are becoming in Him will certainly lead us to what we ought to do in every life circumstance. We simply make the choice based on if it aligns with what God is doing or what would have done at it relates to my character.

Not to long ago a fellow Christian felt the extreme need to sue the company she worked for. This was a Christian organization that she worked for and she felt that she had been treated unfairly. Instead of trying to work things out she consulted an attorney of sorts. What saddened me is that when she and her Christian attorney were asked to sit down and reason together to discover the best course to pursue the response was “NO we have nothing to discuss, if you the company does not reply to our request as we have demanded they will be sued!” I wondered, “Is this God’s way to solve this problem?” I thought, “Doesn’t God’s word encourage us as Christians to come and reason together?” What is sad is that the Christian lawyer didn’t even see the wisdom in seeking to glorify God by (1) learning all the facts and clarifying the issues to effect an optimal God glorifying outcome and (2) seeing if indeed something could have been worked out that would not only lift up Jesus but would demonstrate a powerful witness to everyone involved what God can do to bring reconciliation in the body of Christ.

You see as Christians the first things we should ask ourselves in any situation is: “What is God’s purpose in this?” Our problem is that we all too often seek our personal purpose and reasoning for what we do without consulting God. Many of us can recall that when Joshua forgot to consult God at Ai he experienced a great loss; however, when he consulted God and followed His direction he gained a great victory (see Joshua 7 & 8). We must remember to always make sure that our purposes and decisions are in tune with God’s. This is imperative in our Christian growth, as we must always remember that “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.” Isa. 55:8 As this is true, as we grow we must be constantly and consistently consult God in all our matters of life. We must be seeking His purpose and not our own. For it is in seeking and fulfilling God’s purpose that we glorify Him and accomplish with great joy the direction and purpose of life that He has designed for us. This must be our life’s direction and goal.

In life we too, like Paul, in all things must seek to decide to know nothing else in the midst of our decision-making and life circumstance but to know Christ, Him Crucified and the power of His resurrection. To do this and to have this experience is life’s ultimate purpose.

RTFM is a non-profit 501c3 Christian organization based in Central Wisconsin that seeks to aid individuals in experiencing transformation of life through faith-based counseling, life, leadership and wellness coaching, seminars, training, and newsletters. You can contact us on the web at http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org for more information on how we can help you personally, or your organization.

David Guerrero, M.DIV, BCC, CCLBC http://www.rekindletheflameministries.org/coaching