Strengths-Based Marriage (reading plan review)

Normally on Tuesdays, I post book reviews here, but I’ve been reading a couple of YouVersion reading plans with my wife this summer that I felt I must share with you. Both of them are by Jimmy Evans—One: A Marriage Devotional and Strengths-Based Marriage. 

If you are unfamiliar with YouVersion Bible, there is both a web-based site and a mobile app that you really should check out. I spend a lot of quality time in the Scripture using the app on my iPhone each day. One of the cool features YouVersion has recently introduced is the ability to read devotional plans with friends. This offers:

  • accountability with your reading partners 
  • a set schedule of reading assignments
  • access to all the biblical texts that correspond with the day’s devotional reading
  • a place to share your thoughts just with your reading partners, and inaccessible to anyone else on YouVersion

Strengths-Based Marriage focuses on exactly what the title leads you to expect—the strengths in you and your spouse. Instead of trying to “fix” something in your spouse, Jimmy Evans turns your attention toward the God-implanted strengths in your spouse, and then gives you some practical counsel for calling out those strengths. 

For example, in one of the devotions he wrote, “Each of us is remarkably unique, and to minimize that irreplaceable uniqueness is to rob the world of a contribution that cannot come any other way.” And in another devotional he says, “You cannot separate your treasures from your passions. In other words, you will always be most passionate about the people, pursuits, and places where you are investing the best of your life. Your passions will always follow the investments of your time, energy, and strengths.”

One: A Marriage Devotional is a much more daily nuts-and-bolts approach to our marriages. In this devotional he shares relationships principles, and then gives us a “Talk It Out” and a “Walk It Out” assignment to put into practice. 

In one of these devotionals he writes, “God created marriage to operate as the most important human relationship in our lives, and it only succeeds on that level. … Priority must be proven daily in real terms and not just in words. Good intentions mean very little in marriage. The only thing that matters is what you do and continue to do consistently. For your marriage to work, you must establish it as the first priority and be willing to protect it against good or bad things that try to distract you.”

Whether your marriage is in need of urgent attention, it could use some minor improvements, or it’s already pretty great, both of these devotionals will give you practical tips, time with your spouse in God’s Word, great conversation-starting questions, and some highly practical tips you can use right now. 

9 More Prayers From A.W. Tozer In “The Wisdom Of God”

In each chapter of The Wisdom Of God, A.W. Tozer prayers for us that we would see Wisdom as a Person to be known. Here are a few more of those prayers. 

“Let me not stay my heart till I have discovered Thee in all Thy fullness.” 

“Manifest Thy grace and wisdom in my life today as a witness to those around me.” 

“O Lord God, Thy wisdom has been poured into my heart, creating such a longing for Thee that nothing in this world can satisfy.” 

“Heavenly Father, open my eyes to recognize Thy hand in my life. … May I be aware of my surroundings in light of what Thou art doing.” 

“Let me penetrate the cloud of unknowing and see Thy face and allow it to transform every aspect of my being.” 

“I praise Thee for Thy faithfulness in pursuing me and going to the ultimate end to rescue me from myself.” 

“My heart, O God, needs Thy most sacred protection. Keep me from the infiltration of sin into my life so that I may glorify Thee in everything I do.” 

“I praise Thee, O God, for the restlessness of my spirit has driven me forward to discover my rest completely in Thee.” 

“Dear heavenly Father, may I sent before me only that which will glorify Thee in all the beauty of Thy purity and holiness. I pray Thy wisdom will guide me throughout my life in making the choices that will bless me and honor Thee.” 

You can check out some of the other prayers from The Wisdom Of God that I shared here. You can also read my review of this collection of sermons by clicking here.

8 Quotes From “How To Listen So People Will Talk”

In How To Listen So People Will Talk you will learn some invaluable skills for taking your relationships and your leadership deeper. Becky Harling has given us an amazing resource! Check out my full book review by clicking here. 

“Honestly, it’s impossible to be a good listener without developing a humble spirit. Think about it. When you’re listening and fully engaged, you allow the other person to have all the attention. Listening forces you to lay aside your agenda. It challenges you to let go of your need to share your opinions, theories, and assumptions in favor of listening to another’s feelings, thoughts, and sentiments. That decision can only come from a heart of humility.” 

“Resist the urge to dive in with your own story. … Whenever you dive in with your own story, you are stealing the microphone from the person who is telling their story. … The best advice is to remember to let someone be the star of their own show. Keep the focus on the person talking.” 

“How is it that we who have problems ourselves are so quick to try to fix someone else’s problem? James was spot on when he wrote, ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak’ (James 1:19). I’d like to suggest that a great paraphrase for this verse is, ‘Let everyone be quick to listen and slow to give advice!’” 

“Don’t tell people what to do; ask them questions. … You gain greater insight, they gain greater self-awareness, and the two of you grow closer. … When we dare to ask someone what they want, we give them the opportunity to verbalize their need. … The best questions allow people to explore what’s in their hearts.” 

“When you validate another person’s feelings, you’re basically saying, ‘Your feelings make sense.’ You compassionately acknowledge that the person’s feelings are important and that those feelings are understandable. You don’t correct feelings or instruct a person on how to feel. You simply offer understanding. … Validating someone’s feelings doesn’t necessarily mean you agree with the actions of the other person. … Feelings are neither right nor wrong. They’re just feelings. It’s what we do with those feelings that determines whether or not we sin. … Validate feelings, but only validate actions that line up with Scripture.” 

“In your relationships, what does it look like for you to mimic Jesus and show others how valuable they are? How does your face send the signal, ‘I want to hear what you have to say’? Your nonverbal signals act as a green light, inviting others to share their feelings.” 

“Conflict can be transformational. In the chaos of an argument, if you will listen to understand and focus on meeting the others need, you’ll be more able to work as a team, coming up with a solution that satisfies both. In the end, your relationship will emerge stronger and more resilient.” 

“People are dying to feel heard, and unless we’ve purpose in our hearts to offer our full presence to others, we’ll drift through life distracted and dishonor those who matter to us in the process.” 

Lost Intimacy

 

 

 

 

 

“People don’t lose intimacy when they stop talking, but when they stop listening. Leaders seldom realize how much their listening empowers the other person. Because they are leaders, the sheer act of listening speaks volumes that even a great speech can’t communicate.” —John Maxwell

How Confident Are Your Prayers?

David hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s never tried to lead a rebellion against King Saul. In fact, he’s never even talked poorly about Saul. And yet Saul is out to kill David!

David tries to get as far away as he can, choosing to live in the desert so that he might get some relief from Saul. Still Saul comes after him with a force of 3000 men! Every time David moves, Saul’s men are hot on his trail. David described his situation like this

My mortal enemies surround me. Their hearts are cold and calloused toward me, and they speak terrible things about me. They track me down and surround me. They are like hungry lions, crouching, waiting to pounce on me!

If you were in David’s sandals, how confident would you be that God could get you out of the situation? Remarkably, David’s confidence was as high as it could be!

David not only was confident that God would hear him, but that He would listen to him. More than that, David knew God would pay attention to him. And then David boldly said, “I call on You, O God, for you WILL answer me.”

How could David pray such a confident prayer? The answer is in this principle…

There is a direct correlation between intimacy and confidence.

David made two very intimate claims about his relationship with God:

  1. You will keep me as the apple of Your eye
  2. You hide me in the shadow of Your wings

The apple of the eye is the pupil. Our eyes are amazingly designed to not only take in information but to protect themselves. If something is getting too close to our eye, the eyelids blink in protection faster than we can consciously tell them to. So David was claiming that God would protect him by reflex!

The shadow of Your wings was a reference to the top of the Ark of the Covenant; a place called the mercy seat. Here is where the priest sprinkled the blood of a sacrificial lamb to atone for the people’s sin and to appeal to God’s mercy. The mercy seat was over-shadowed by two angels’ wings.

David was saying that God kept him in this intimate place—covered by God’s mercy and protection!

Jesus also told us about intimate confidence when He said, “If you remain in Me, and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7).

  • Intimacy: remain IN Jesus, and let His words remain IN you
  • Confidence: ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you

Are your prayers this confident? If not, don’t work on raising your confidence, but work on increasing your intimacy. Check your intimacy level with questions like:

  • Am I abiding in Jesus?
  • Are His words abiding in me?
  • Do I have any unconfessed sin?
  • Is my prayer a “Your kingdom come, Your will be done” prayer?

Focus on intimacy, and then watch your confidence soar! 

If you are interested in learning more about the prayers of David, I have also discussed his prayer for help, his prayer of crying out loud, and his prayer of praise.

10 Quotes From “Cherish”

As I said in my book review of Gary Thomas’s Cherish, this is a must-read for married couples, those about to be married, and those who counsel married couples. Please check out my review, and then enjoy a few quotes from this book.

“Learning to truly cherish each other turns marriage from an obligation into a delight. It lifts marriage above a commitment to a precious priority.”

“In one sense, love is the nurturing aspect of marriage, while cherish is the ‘tasting’ aspect of marriage. Love meets the need; cherish tickles the tongue.”

“If you want to be fully satisfied in your marriage, if you want your wife to feel cherished, then mentally treat your wife like Eve. Let her be, in your mind, in that way, the only woman in the world. Say with King Solomon, ‘My dove, my perfect one, is the only one’ (Song of Songs 6:9 ESV).” 

“You’ve already made your choice. In your ideal world, you have no intention of ever starting over with someone else, so why not put your energy into and your focus on guarding that choice, building on the strengths of that choice, and making yourself ever more grateful that you made that choice?”

“At some point, if you want marital happiness, if you want to learn how to cherish a real man instead of longing for an imaginary composite, some ‘Frankenstein’ husband who somehow has it all, then you have to own your choice and even learn to cherish your choice. ‘My vineyard, my very own, is for myself’ (Song of Songs 8:12 NRSV).”

“The call to cherish isn’t to appreciate being pleasured by your spouse but to take pleasure in the pleasure of your spouse.”

“If we want to cherish our spouses, we must learn to take an active interest in what interests them.”

“Cherishing is expressed, or it’s not. Intimacy is built, or it is assaulted, even in the most mundane marital conversations.”

“The act of consistently noticing and honoring our spouses cultivates and maintains a certain kind of relationship, and it shapes our hearts. Noticing and honoring sustain the force and power of cherishing. When we stop noticing and stop honoring our spouses in the little things, the relationship starves.”

“Active cherishing—noticing and then expressing the excellence you see—is a way to shape our attitudes and to generate feelings of closeness and well-being. When we do what the Bible tells us to do, we will be doubly blessed—our spouses will be happier, increasing the joy in our marriages, and we’ll become happier psychologically as well. Cherishing our spouses literally makes us feel better. So cherishing means waging war on contempt and going on the offense with gratitude.”

I will be sharing more quotes from Cherish soon. If you’d like to be notified when these quotes are posted, simply enter your email address in the field in the right column and click “Sign me up!” You may also want to follow me on Twitter and Tumblr for other quality quotes I post every day.

The Power To Overcome Sexual Temptation

Focus On The Family“It’s not easy to overcome recurring sexual temptation. That’s because sexual sin is, at the most basic level, an illegitimate way of fulfilling a deep and legitimate human need: the need for love and intimacy.” —Focus On The Family

John Piper“Here is the secret of the power of faith to break the enslaving force of sinful attractions. If the heart is satisfied with all that God is for us in Jesus, the power of sin to lure us away from the wisdom of Christ is broken.” —John Piper

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