A Promise and a Guarantee

In marriage we all want complete and lively connection. When that happens the wife gets love and security and the husband gets respect and affirmation. Where there is strong connection there is intensity and passion. The best situation for couples in marriage is to have a strong vibrant relationship with the Lord first. Horizontal relationships can only thrive when there is a vertical interaction with the Lord. Without the vertical the horizontal stays on the ground. In John 12:32 it says:

And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all to Myself.

When a person believes in the message of the cross and what Jesus accomplished on the cross they will be lifted up and drawn closer to Him. Then they can have more to give away to their spouse.

In the Song of Solomon chapter 8 verse 6-7 it says:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart, as a seal upon your arm; For love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; It’s flames are flames of fire, A most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, nor will the rivers overflow it. If a man would give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be scorned.”

A seal can be used to describe the closeness and affection of a committed and connected relationship. This commitment is demonstrated by constant protection care and interest of love. When it says that “love is as strong as death” it speaks of how nothing can get in the way of their dedication to each other. At the end of the verse it says “its flames are flames of fire” which speaks of the passion that can exist in a devoted relationship.

Verse 6 and 7 really sums up the nature and power of love as given to us by the Lord. His love for us equips and enables us to love our spouse the way we are supposed to. God’s design for marriage is that there would be love, security, respect, affirmation, intensity and passion.

If we are going to have a strong unified marriage we have to work on it and we have to let the Lord have His way individually first then in our lives together as one.

Another important element in having a strong and fulfilling marriage is what scripture calls the bond of peace. It is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church where he is exhorting the church to be unified and to conduct themselves in a way worthy of their calling.

What a great principle to apply in marriage where husband and wife need to reach consensus on a host of issues motivated by the benefits of scripture.

Eph 4:3  endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

To endeavor means to make haste, to make effort, to be prompt earnest and diligent. The bond of peace as it relates to marriage means that the interest of both husband and wife is to be concentrated, cemented and sealed.

Consider the word bond and the word seal.

A bond is a promise pledge, glue, cement, the way in which one surface sticks to another. A link that binds people together in a relationship

A seal is there to ratify and to establish it is something that gives confirmation or assurance. It can be described as a ring or stamp with a raised or engraved symbol or emblem that is pressed into wax in order to certify a signature or authenticate a document.

A bond then is a promise a seal is a guarantee of that promise.

As we look to scripture and seek to conduct our marriages through its instruction we understand that His word is sealed by the Holy Spirit and given to us to have a marriage of godliness and a testimony of His love.

Having the bond of peace enables you to pursue peace and respond to challenges responsibly and constructively.

Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount

Mat 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers! For they shall be called the sons of God.

You could be a peacemaker or you could be a peace taker

As a peace taker your response to every challenge, conflict or disagreement is extreme and it ranged from on one end of the spectrum to denial and running away from the conflict to the other end of the spectrum to anger abuse assault and even legal action. Not the right response at all.

Jas 4:1 From where do wars and fightings among you come? Is it not from this, from your lusts which war in your members?

Jas 4:2 You desire, and do not have. You murder, and are jealous, and cannot obtain. You fight and war, yet you have not because you ask not.

The person who is a peace taker is continually making the wrong decisions in life. There wants, desires and goals are self-centered and worldly.

In contrast a peace maker will as it says in Hebrews 12:14 will:

Pursue peace with everyone, as well as holiness, without which no one will see the Lord.

The peacemaker will respond properly to conflict.

A peacemaker will negotiate, arbitrate, be accountable and seek reconciliation. Peace regulates the heart and brings harmony to relationships.

Rom 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Rom 14:18 for he who serves Christ in these things is well-pleasing to God, and approved by men.

Rom 14:19 So then let us pursue the things of peace, and the things for building up one anoth

When you are in the word consistently you come to the realization that serving the Lord is not about external impressions. Serving the Lord in your marriage is about the spiritual growth that you experience together.

It’s about growing in the things of God together and being able to say that from that growth you are experiencing a stronger marriage and a better relationship

His love equips and enables us to love our spouse the way we are supposed to. His design for marriage is that there would be love, security, respect, affirmation, intensity and passion. Just a few of the rewards that come to those that seek Him diligently.


Your Labor of Love

If you know exactly what your gifts are. You may know exactly what it is that you have been called to do. Understanding these things make it more natural to established your labor of love. Maybe it’s taken you a few years to establish or it may have come naturally when you first came to the Lord.

For many of us it may take years to determine what specific area of ministry the Lord wants me to serve in. The Lord will take each of us through a process where we can discover exactly what our spiritual gifts are.

Paul told the Corinthian church “brethren I don’t want you to be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts”. Then in 12:4 he says.

1Co 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

1Co 12:5 And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord.

1Co 12:6 And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all.

1Co 12:7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal.

We may each have a different gifts, and we may each administer that gift differently. But each gift is by the same Spirit and for the same Lord.

(To find out more about spiritual gifts you can read 1Cor chapters 12 and 14 Rom 12 and Ephesians 4)

Each person in the body of Christ is given gifts and they are given for one particular purpose that is for the profit of all. Those that we minister to, those that we minister with and those that are affected by our ministry will profit. Meaning they will benefit from our contribution. Our gifting is given for the profit of all. Our gifting is given for the benefit of the whole body of Christ. When we discover what our gifts are we can begin to see how the Lord uses them in the body of Christ.

As we see how God moves in us and through us we begin to experience the fruit of the Spirit which is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control; Gal 5:22

We experience the fruit that the Holy Spirit produces in the person that decides to use the gifts that they have been given. The person that uses his or her gifts in the work of ministry is a person that stays connected and is used by the Lord to edify the body of Christ. That is Gods design for the church. That His people would take their gifts use them to build up each other in the things of God. The reason for the gifting is:

Eph 4:12 for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.

Eph 4:13 And this until we all come into the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ;

Eph 4:14 so that we no longer may be infants, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, in the dishonesty of men, in cunning craftiness, to the wiles of deceit.

Eph 4:15 But that you, speaking the truth in love, may in all things grow up to Him who is the Head, even Christ;

Eph 4:16 from whom the whole body, fitted together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of each part, producing the growth of the body to the edifying of itself in love.

It’s important to understand that God wants to bring His people to a point of maturity. He wants us to be able to grow, to fight and to contribute to the building up of the whole body. That is how we develop a Labor of Love by understanding these things and taking steps to apply them.

There is nothing better than loving the ministry that you are involved in. There is nothing better than loving those that you minister with and thanking the Lord for their work in ministry.

1Th 1:2 We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers;

1Th 1:3 remembering without ceasing your work of faith and labor of love and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, before our God and Father;

People will thank the Lord when you are exercising your gifts and establishing a Labor of Love that blesses them and brings honor to the Lord.

Juror Number Two

Recently I fulfilled my civic duty by reporting to jury service. After a few days I was selected to be juror number two and I was excited to participate. Unfortunately the case ended prematurely in a mis-trial and I was quickly on my way back to normal. The process, as I see it is very interesting. As I sat and watched both sides work the system for their clients, I was intrigued at how any one of us in the courtroom could have influenced the outcome according to our best interest.

If I wanted to serve on this panel I could simply be low key and not appear to have anything in my background that might raise a red flag for either the plaintiff or the defense. Conversely if I wanted to be excused I could perhaps exaggerate a little or become emotional as I answered questions.

The way you answer the questions can either keep you in the process or it can get you dismissed quickly. In the jury selection process the words that you use could be used against you if it seems to indicate that you are leaning toward one side or the other.

After a few days of watching the selection process I was struck with an interesting parallel. I wondered about the communication process in marriage. In a similar way I could see how we could foster a position in our relationship based on the words that we use and the tone that we deliver those words.

As in jury selection if I want to serve my spouse and be available to listen and support, I can use impartial words and exercise patience as I speak. Those words and that tone would speak volumes about my intentions. On the other hand if we have no interest in creating an environment of connection we might exaggerate or become emotional so that we can be excused from participating.

In marriage, we can foster strong communication or we can struggle through haphazardly without clear direction. Knowing specifically what you wish to accomplish can help determine your course of action. Either you want to proceed with a humble spirit seeking to improve connection or you want to fight through each discussion selfishly making sure that your point of view is prominent.

We can try to have a good balance of openness and impartiality or we can try to manipulate the outcome with the intent to avoid engagement.

In jury service we can be a part of a process that brings citizens together to participate in the justice system. In marriage we can work together to create an environment of good connection, mutual service and strength in marriage.

 

Book Review: Marriage of Honor, Richard Quinonez

TITLE: Marriage of Honor – How to Walk With and Talk With Your Spouse in Marriage

AUTHOR: Richard Quinonez

TOPIC: Christian Marriage

COVER: Paperback - 70 pages

THEME: How to build and maintain and healthy Christian marriage.

THESIS: Balancing communication and understanding in a marriage with God at the center.

ISBN: None

Marriage of Honor is the culmination of all the work the author has put into preserving the vows he and his wife took over 27 years ago.  He and his wife now perform public speaking, lead meetings, and guide other groups. 

In the prologue he speaks of how, as a husband in a Christian marriage, he and his wife have attended numerous counseling sessions, seminars, workshops, and couples studies through their church.  Each event presented the author with another stone to build his marriage with, and he talks of how life can often get in the way of a strong marriage.  However, he sets the stage for the areas of a marriage that both spouses must focus on in order to prevent growing apart.

As this book is more of a guide than a biography, the author effectively prepares the reader for what material lies ahead with the introductory chapter.  There, he details what areas of marriage he will speak of for both men and women, along with what goal each should take away, evidenced with these two excerpts:

"Husbands: Learn what it means to live with and to honor your wife.  Your marriage should have a strength and beauty that signifies that your relationship is growing and being built upon a foundation of solid biblical principles.

"Wives: Understand that placing your husbands in a position that encourages him to lead and make decisions in life and marriage helps him to become a better husband, father, and leader."

His writing style also exhibits his theme of incorporating Bible verses into each lesson or chapter to further reinforce his points.  Each chapter title doubles as one of the five for for men and women.  Chapters one through five focuses on the husbands, while chapters six through ten are dedicated to the wives.  He also leads every chapter by posing a question to the spouses, prompting them to think deeper as they read.

In chapter one, "Fondness", Quinonez encourages husbands to show their wives that they are cherished through their actions and words. He also touches on rekindling a marriage that could potentially become stagnant in a sub-section called "Renewed Appreciation".

Chapter two, "Access", focuses on husbands making sure their wives have access to his heart, and that they remains emotionally accessible to them at all times. The author addresses that a man who "has a strong walk with the Lord is a man who can better give his heart to his wife."  He goes on to speak about examples to follow and examples to avoid in order to preserve, love and peace in the union.

"Comprehension" is the title for chapter three, and challenges husbands to ask themselves if they are cognizant of the needs of their wives, including understanding their desires. He shares a wonderful story of growing up with a father who was an upholsterer, then uses the idea of tapestry as a metaphor for a husband to understand his wife's personality, incorporating upholstery techniques along the way.

Chapter four, "Tenacity", the author talks of the importance of being a confident leader, thus gaining confidence from the family.  He implores husbands to utilize their strengths while "sharpening {their} weaknesses to guide". (21)

In chapter five, "Support", the author details the importance of a husband "serving and supporting" his wife, and how spiritual leadership provides a deeper sense of security in a Christian marriage. The sub-topics "Lift Up Your Marriage" and "The Perfect Blend" open up the perfect dialogue for a husband and wife to address their individual marital roles, as well as what each needs to bring to the relationship.

Chapter six, "Appreciate", shifts to the wife and her role in the marriage.  In this chapter the author talks about the benefits of a wife making sure her husband knows he is appreciated.  This includes understanding who her husband is as a person and continuing to offer unconditional appreciation, even through the hard times.  He maintains that having strong faith in God will enable the wife to have an abiding faith in her husband as a leader.

"Companion", chapter seven, leads with the question: "Does your husband see you as a companion and partner in the home?"  The author effectively talks about spousal roles in the home, making sure to avoid gender stereotypes.  He addresses the fact that not all couples are the same and the key once again is to understand the person your partner is, what one needs to bring to the relationship, and how to adapt accordingly in order to utilize each others strengths, as well as accommodate each others weaknesses.

Chapter eight addresses how to be a teammate in the marriage, as the title reflects.  The author explains how being a teammate is not just about working together – it also includes showing husbands that they are most loved and appreciated by their wives when they regularly devout time to be with them.  He talks about engaging in projects together and showing a genuine interest in what their wives love to do.

In Chapter nine, "Service", the author speaks of how a wife can serve her husband as the leader of the family.  He explains that it involves supporting the husband in his decisions. He make a point in stating that decision making should involve both husband and wife. However, the husband should be allowed to make the final decision and should thus take full responsibility for such a decision made. He explains the wisdom of not disagreeing with one's husband in front of the children or family members. Instead such disagreements should be discussed in a spirit of humility and mutual respect in behind closed door, with Jesus being the referee.  He patiently addresses the possible fears women may have surrendering authority in the home, and explains how doing so will allow their husbands to grow stronger in God.

Chapter ten, "Intimacy", concentrates on the importance of sexual intimacy in the marriage. While maintaining a high level of class and modesty, Quinonez talks (sometimes humorously) about how spouses should come to know each other on an intimate level, with wives conducting a "study of your husband's passions and pleasures". He also speaks on the importance of maintaining open communication to foster intimacy between wives and their husbands.

Overall, this book is a great read for Christian and non-Christians.  Spouses should definitely read this together, as Richard Quinonez has successfully touched on the vital portions of marriage, while ministering honestly from the heart.  He preaches what he believes without any dogma, and his tone remains sincere. The reader will take many jewels from his work.  

Tamara Mayo

Owner, Taevo Publishing

 

 

 

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