3 Things My Parents Never Taught Me About Happiness

1. Money can buy happy moments, but not a happy life!

2. Managing money is mostly managing yourself!

3. There’s only ONE first place.

TRAIN MYSELF:

Truly Happy is a God-first life with purpose and meaning that is soul fulfilling!

Danny’s Definition of Success

Helping put together a church service for a group of inmates was a big “get off the couch and do something” moment for Danny. When he did, he got to see what happens when you follow where the Holy Spirit leads.

Danny was accustomed to the big stage, the lights, top notch equipment, and a mass of fans, but a small worship service with these inmates changed his view of success. He saw people who had no “stuff,” but they knew they had the most important thing, a relationship with Jesus Christ. And to Danny, that just made sense. That success is knowing who we are in Christ.

Steven and Natalie’s Story

Steven and Natalie were struggling with infertility and asking God why they hadn’t been able to expand their family as they so deeply wanted to do. But through seeking God for answers, and Steven seeing their blessing of extra rooms in their house, they found where their capacity to serve and love others, and the answer to their longing met.

Within just a few months, Steven and Natalie had two foster children filling their extra rooms. And then another call came. There were two more children in an emergency situation needing a home. Their rooms were filled, but God was clear, and the Holy Spirit gave abundant peace. “Yes. Just say yes.”

Through Steven and Natalie’s pain and struggle, God orchestrated a true picture of His love — His love for Steven and Natalie in answering their prayer for children, and His love for children in providing them a safe, caring home. And doing it in a way that was abundantly more than what they asked or imagined — a blessing of four when they thought they only had capacity for two.

If Not Me, Then Who?

If we don’t take action, who will? The answer is no one. That’s a haunting thought. But there is good news!

We were created by God with a purpose to do good works, which He prepared for us to do. We are the answer. God has placed us right where we are to solve problems and fill needs that we see around us. What a privilege that we are God’s answer and that He will give us the courage to take action.

The Other Side of Sacrifice

Pastor Jason shares the story of a 12Stone family, who were led by God to do something significant for a complete stranger. God stirred their hearts to sacrifice to send an unnamed student, who didn’t know Jesus and couldn’t afford to go on their own, to “Never The Same” camp.

The family made budget cuts to bless this student with what could be a life-changing experience. And it was! They received word the student learned about the rescuing hand of God in a camp service and accepted Jesus.

God used their sacrifice of several hundred dollars to do something that changed all of eternity for one young person — all the while, marking the family with playing a part in an enormous blessing.

God Stirs Our Hearts

We all sacrifice when our hearts are stirred for something. When you live on God’s agenda, He will lead you to sacrifice for others.

One 12Stone family went so far as to move from their comfortable, suburban life to a low-income apartment complex so they could reach people for Jesus. Why? Because God stirred their hearts to have a deep love for the people there, especially the ones who don’t know Him yet.

Sacrifice Is the Core of Living Sent

The life of the Apostle Paul is a remarkable demonstration of sacrifice. He left everything he knew behind to do what God called him to do, and he experienced extraordinary hardships along the way, including prison and severe persecution.

We all know how to sacrifice for the things we love and enjoy. But can we sacrifice to Live Sent and meet the needs of others — even when it’s uncomfortable and inconvenient? Paul believed his life would be worthless if he didn’t live out what God called him to do.

Imagine how the gospel would advance if we all did everything God called us to do, and we spread the good news of God’s grace on a daily basis.

How Doug Jones Loves Others

When Doug and his wife, Laurie, learned they couldn’t have children of their own, they searched for another life’s purpose — a way to pour into young people’s lives. He encountered many young people on sets, in film school, at meet and greets, etc., so he didn’t have to look far for kids who needed love. “Puppies,” he called them.

Doug and his wife found that opening their home to young people (their “puppies!”) could be a profound way to impact others. In doing so, God fulfilled their longing to pour into young people, and then He divinely used Doug and Laurie to love and care for the young people in return.

Doug Jones’ Christianity

Acclaimed actor Doug Jones explains how he shares his Christianity when the subject of faith arises and through how he lives his life. He says he doesn’t want to be “overt or covert” about his faith. It simply comes out through who he is.

When he’s met with someone’s anger toward the Church or past experiences with Christians, he gives them a big hug, listens to their story, and empathizes with their pain. It’s an important step to healing and a kindness Jesus would want us all to show regardless of what someone believes.

Today, Doug is often approached with prayer needs because his colleagues know he is a Christian.

Doug Jones’ Sense of Normal

There was a long period of time in Actor Doug Jones’ career in which he felt a little left out. In his mind, all the other Hollywood actors were having “red carpet” moments and magazine cover shoots while no one even recognized who he was. This became his sense of normal — being unseen and unknown, and able to live a private life. But as soon as he stopped craving the desire to be known, God allowed him shine in the public eye.

It didn’t take long for Doug to realize how fickle fame can be and that his public success shouldn’t define him (even though he still often finds himself in the spotlight). It was Doug’s role as child of God, husband, son, brother, uncle, mentor — and then, actor — that he wanted to define who he was.

Follow Jesus, Not Your Heart

When you follow Jesus and God’s instructions in the Bible, you will never go wrong.

When you follow your heart and let your emotions drive your decisions, you can easily fall into situations that will defeat you and drain you. It’s the Bible that trains our hearts and minds when it comes to truth and how we should make our decisions.

How Did Jesus Love People?

Jesus loved people like no other human being to ever walk the planet. As the Son of God, he loved everyone — no matter who they were (friend or foe) or what was in their past (their mistakes and sinfulness). He loved everyone equally and perfectly. He still does that today. And the Bible encourages us to love like Jesus.

When Jesus shared the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10: 25-37), he made it clear that when the Bible says to “love your neighbor as yourself,” it means that our “neighbor” is literally everyone we meet — not just the family next door.

Day 2: Playing Favorites

As mothers, none of us would likely admit to having a favorite child, but many of us can look at our childhood and pinpoint the sibling we believed our parents loved most. A recent study released findings that the baby of the family is usually the favored child. While we can debate the validity of these findings, the Bible shows us the ramifications of parenting with favoritism.

Rebekah and her husband, Isaac, had favorites when it came to their twin sons. Esau, the elder, was Isaac’s favorite, and Jacob, the younger, was Rebekah’s favorite. Before Isaac died, he wanted to give his blessing to his eldest son. Rebekah, remembering that God had previously promised that the younger son would rule over the older son, schemed to help Jacob deceive his father and steal his brother’s blessing. Jacob then fled, fearing for his life, and was gone for years before the two brothers reunited (Genesis 27). Knowing her family so well, Rebekah knew exactly how to coach Jacob in the deception of Isaac in order to assure that her favorite son would indeed rule over his brother.

Favoritism, Redeemed Mistakes, and God’s Plan

1. God doesn’t have favorites.

Romans 2:11 says that God shows no favoritism. As hard as it may be for us to understand, God loves each of us the same. We are all His children, and He has good gifts in store for each one of us (James 1:17). When we model our parenting after the love God shows us, we love our children equally, showing no favoritism.

2. God can use our mistakes to accomplish His plan.

Rebekah used her role as a mother to “help” make sure God’s plan happened, and her “help” ended up causing years of separation between her sons. It’s tempting to want to help God with His plans for our lives, but God doesn’t need our help. He can use our mistakes to teach us great lessons and bring us closer to Him. Even if we stumble, God will pick us back up and guide us on the specific path that He has for each of us (Psalm 37:23-24).

Being a perfect mom is something we can never attain, but we can learn from stories of the mothers in the Bible and from other moms in our lives. We can be confident that God will love us with an unchanging love, show mercy by picking us up when we stumble and give us the strength to be the best mom to our children.

Reflect:

  • Take a few minutes to thank God for your kids and how He’s carefully crafted them.
  • Does favoritism keep you from loving each of your children just as God loves you?
  • Is there an area of parenting you need help surrendering to the Lord? Take some time to talk it through and ask God for help.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Four Ways to Battle Fear and Worry

Every Christian has to decide: Am I trusting that Jesus is for me always, or am I believing His care for me diminishes based on my performance? Is Jesus my king, provider, and comforter? Or, is He a distant authority figure watching me weather storms alone?

In Matthew 14:22-33, the disciples found themselves at this crossroads. They were in the middle of a storm, frightened and hopeless. Jesus approaches them and says, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Apprehensive and uncertain, Peter calls out to Jesus, “Lord, if it’s you tell me to come to you on the water.”

Full of faith and full of trust, Peter walks on water with Jesus. But the moment is broken as soon as the wind kicks up and Peter lets fear creep back in.

Like Peter, when we trust that Jesus really does want the best for us, everything changes. We can stop worrying. We can embrace change. But inevitably, the wind will kick up again.

The alarm doesn’t go off.

You get news from your boss you weren’t expecting.

A friend betrays you.

In those moments when the worry creeps back in, we can look to Jesus or start looking for ways to keep ourselves afloat.

4 Ways To Focus on Jesus Today

1. Spend time in the Bible.

When I’m not looking for Jesus daily, my perception of Him goes from good King to enemy. His plans look terrifying and my way looks better.

Keeping our perspective in check starts with us knowing who we’re putting our trust in. Reading the Bible shows us more about Jesus and builds trust in our hearts.

2. Serve someone else for a change.

When I focus more on myself than the people around me, I give more of my attention to my own doubt and fear. Serving others allows me to remember that life is not all about me.

Serving also allows me to come face to face with situations I can’t fix or control. So as I reach out to serve others I find myself reaching up to Jesus more and more.

3. Pray.

Prayer doesn’t have to be super religious, lengthy, and eloquent. God also loves raw, honest prayers. When Peter was afraid and sinking he didn’t say, “Jesus, Holy Messiah, save me if it is your will.” He said, “Lord, save me!” (Matthew 14:30)

Most of us avoid prayer because we think we have to impress someone. Prayer isn’t for me to impress Jesus. He knows my heart. Prayer allows me to grow by being open and honest with Jesus and myself.

4.  Hang out with other people who are trying to follow Jesus.

There’s power in numbers. We’re more likely to have faith and be less fearful when we’re surrounded by people who point us back to Jesus (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Jesus’ love, provision, and sovereignty are always present. But I can see those things more clearly through the love and support of Christian friends. Celebrating God’s miracles in each others’ lives helps to make those moments real and gives us touchstones to go back to when fear creeps in.

Peter was only able to walk on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus. The miracle of change, the ability to do the impossible, comes when we do the same — putting our eyes on Jesus rather than storms that surround us.

Day 5: Does Parenting Ever Really End?

Read: Ruth 1Ruth 2Ruth 3Ruth 4

  • Are your children grown and out of the house?
  • Married with their own families?
  • Are you an empty nester and wondering what’s next?

Whatever our stage in life, our ministry is never over, and there is no better example than the life of Naomi.

Naomi lost everything, even her husband (Ruth 1:3) and both of her sons (Ruth 1:5). A devout Jewish woman, Naomi was left with two Moabite women in her charge. Heading back home she encouraged them to also go back home. She had nothing for them. One left and returned to her people. The other, Ruth, “clung” to her, pleaded with her to let her stay, and at that moment, accepted her God.

A mother’s work is never done, and even when your kids are grown and gone […] God still has a plan for the wisdom and care He’s built in you.

What a witness Naomi’s life must have been. Ruth refused the opportunity to return home. She turned from her religion and accepted the God of Israel. This must have brought joy to Naomi, through her grief, as she made a bold move and continued to disciple this young woman.

Neither knew their future as they set out to Judah. But, Naomi knew it was her calling to shepherd Ruth toward three keys of wisdom:

  1. Wisdom for protection by instructing her how to work the field (Ruth 2:22).
  2. Wisdom about how to secure her future by “flirting” with Boaz (Ruth 3:1-4).
  3. Wisdom to have patience and wait for Boaz to do the right thing (Ruth 3:18).

A mother’s work is never done, and even when your kids are grown and gone, or perhaps you’ve outlived one or more of them, God still has a plan for the wisdom and care He’s built in you. Naomi received Ruth as her own daughter and eventually became the great-grandmother to King David.

Naomi pushed through the pain and the emptiness that often accompanies outliving loved ones to continue what God called her to do, and He blessed her beyond what could be imagined. Ruth and Boaz married and had a son named Obed. Naomi’s role wasn’t over. She took the baby and became his nanny (Ruth 4:16). The wisdom from her life with the Lord could now be shared with her grandchild.

Because Naomi remained a witness in her home …
… an unlikely woman, whose country represented temptation and trouble for Israel, believed and followed God.
… this unlikely woman, Ruth, married again and birthed a son.
… she became the great-grandmother to King David whose lineage eventually birthed Jesus.

Reflect:

  • How can Naomi’s story encourage you in your season of life?
  • Have you ever considered that there are other “children” that may need your wisdom to navigate a life lived in Christ?
  • What is one thing you can do today to start a journey to share wisdom with a new believer?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 1: Do You See What I See?

Wouldn’t it have been great if Eve had been the ideal role model for the modern woman? She was the first woman, first wife, and first mom, and yet she struggled with contentment. She lived in paradise with her husband, had direct access to God, and Satan still tricked her into believing that she needed more. God gives us everything we need and tells us not to worry (Matthew 6:25-26), yet we spend most of our lives fighting for contentment.

Satan comes to steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). He doesn’t always come as the obvious deceptor, but often as the snake in the grass that slithers into our circumstances planning to destroy our perspective. He wants us to see the way we fall short in comparison to those around us, stealing our joy, killing our contentment, and destroying our view of ourselves.

Eve knew what God told her about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but Satan convinced her that God was holding out on her. When Eve “saw that the fruit of the tree was good … she took some and ate it” (Genesis 3:6).

Remember who God says you are. 

Satan wants us to “see” our world differently than the way God designed it. He wants to attack our families as he did Eve’s. He wants us to compare ourselves to others and forget we are wonderfully made. He wants us to snap at our children instead of being slow to speak. He wants us distant from godly women that can hold us accountable as mothers and wives. Satan wants us to forget God’s truth. He wants us so focused on other things that we forget we are gifted, beloved, and adored children of the living God. It is the last thing he wants us to “see.”

Reflect:

  • Is there any part of your life you need help “seeing” God’s way?
  • Take a few minutes to encourage a mom today by reminding her of her true identity in Christ.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 8: A Mother of Faith

Have you ever wanted something so bad that it was all you thought about, talked about, and prayed for? Hannah knew that feeling, and she chose to respond with an attitude of humility and a heart full of faith. Hannah was a homemaker, wife, and believer in the Lord. But most of all, Hannah wanted to be a mother.

For years Hannah was not able to have children while her husband’s second wife, Peninnah, was able to have many. To make matters worse, Peninnah knew how badly Hannah wanted to have a child. She would taunt Hannah cruelly, rubbing it in, and never letting her forget that God had not given her what she wanted. Instead of lashing out or giving up, Hannah would pray fervently for the Lord to give her a son. She continued to worship God and pour out her heart to Him year after year as her family visited the house of the Lord at Shiloh.

One day, as Hannah was weeping and praying, she told God that if He would allow her to conceive a son, she would give him fully back to the Lord (1 Samuel 1:11). As she prayed and wept, Eli, the priest at the temple, noticed how distraught she was. After speaking with Hannah, Eli asked the Lord to grant her the desire of her heart.

This encouragement fueled Hannah’s faith, and soon after she and her husband returned home, she conceived and gave birth to a baby boy named Samuel. Hannah knew that this child was a gift from the Lord, and in faith, she kept her promise to Him. She took Samuel to the house of the Lord at Shiloh and gave him to Eli so that he could serve the Lord for the rest of his days. There, he grew up in the temple, learning to serve God, hear His voice, and eventually become Israel’s greatest judge. Samuel was the very one that God had prepared from the beginning to lead His people at this time in history.

What can we learn from Hannah as a mother?

God cares about your feelings, too.

Hannah knew that while she was infertile, her lack of self-worth could get the best of her, so she always made sure to confess her feelings to God. No matter what you’re waiting for, you can do the same. God loves you and wants you to know that you can come to Him with any need or desire. Like Hannah, we can pour our hearts out to God and have faith that He will give us His best at just the right time.

Your kids are on “loan.”

Hannah knew from the very beginning, even before Samuel was conceived, that he belonged to God. She understood that her bearing a son meant that she was being “loaned” a child from God to love. This is a game changer as a mom. If we could look at our children through the lens of this truth, it would help us see them for who they truly are: God’s child first, on loan for us to love and train to serve the Lord.

We can see that Samuel’s faith grew to reflect Hannah’s when we read his words in 1 Samuel 12:24, “Be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” (1 Samuel 12:24)

Reflect:

  • What great things has God done for you that you can thank Him for while you wait?
  • Part of God’s plan for Hannah was waiting for child-bearing years. It is easy to look at our outward circumstances, not realizing God needs it to happen this way.
  • What are you struggling to wait for? Pour your heart out to God and tell Him.
  • When Hannah faced opposition in her waiting, she chose a humble response. How will you respond as you wait?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 4: Are You Winning Arguments in Your Marriage?

Read: Matthew 18:21-35Ephesians 4:31-32 , Proverbs 10:12

How often do you look at your spouse and think no one on the planet would agree with his or her point of view?

So many times, what started as a small disagreement quickly spirals into a fight, and neither of you wants to back down. But as hard as it is to accept, it is more important to be reconciled than to be right.

It is more important to be reconciled than to be right.

As Christians, we are called to forgive those who hurt us, whether that person is a total stranger or the person we sleep beside every night. When Peter asked Jesus how many times he should forgive someone, Jesus says, “… no not seven times, but 70 times seven.” Jesus’ point is that there isn’t a limit on forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-22, NLT).

God never put a limit on the number of times He was willing to forgive us, and we are to do the same for others (Ephesians 4:32).

God forgives us not because we are forgivable, but because He loves us. We are His. Love is the key to forgiveness. In a marriage, sometimes you have to choose to love your spouse not because they are lovable, but because they are yours.

What does it look like to choose love in marriage? It means not reacting in the moment. It means holding your tongue when you want to speak your mind. It is committing to praying for your spouse. It is elevating your spouse’s needs over your own. It means choosing to forgive before your spouse asks for forgiveness.

Winning the argument is never worth losing the marriage. Unity in marriage isn’t the result of two perfect people living life. It’s what happens when two flawed people learn to forgive.

Question for him:

  • Is there anything you’re refusing to forgive your wife for?

Question for her:

  • Is there anything you’re refusing to forgive your husband for?

Questions to talk about together:

  • How is winning an argument different from resolving a disagreement?
  • What’s one way I can love you better when we disagree?
  • Finish this sentence: I know you’re sorry about _______ and I forgive you.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 3: Three Steps to Better Communication

Does it ever feel like you and your spouse speak completely different languages? You say one thing, your spouse hears another, and so begins an evening of arguing.

Marriage is a gift, meant to bring us joy, make us more like Jesus, and be a visible example of God’s love for His children. Communication is often the biggest obstacle to what marriage is intended to be.

So how do we change how we communicate?

1. It starts with you. 

It’s easy to point a finger at our spouse. Think about how often you start sentences, “If only you would …”

The end of that sentence might be an area of weakness for your spouse. But the truth is we can’t control our spouse’s actions. We can only control our own. Improving communication starts by turning that finger back on ourselves and asking the Lord to show us our own sin (Matthew 7:5).

2. Examine your heart.

What comes out of our mouths is an overflow of what is in our hearts (Luke 6:45). Chances are if you don’t like what you’re saying, or if your spouse doesn’t like what they’re hearing, the issue is in your heart, not your words.

3. Listen to the Holy Spirit.

When we are in a relationship with God, His Spirit lives in us. The Holy Spirit gives us the power to change the way we communicate with our spouse.

Our conversations don’t need to be filled with anger, rage, slander, lies, or foul language (Colossians 3:8). Instead, as we follow Jesus and learn to take His attitude toward our spouse, we show grace for each others’ faults. We forgive one another, submit to one another, and love one another. It’s pretty easy to guess which behaviors will produce better communication between a husband and a wife.

Better communication doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a daily decision to choose loving God and loving our spouse over loving ourselves. But when we allow God to show us how to communicate, He will strengthen our marriages and be honored through them.

Questions for him:

  • Which behaviors from Colossians 3 do you see in yourself?
  • What do you want to see more of instead?

Questions for her:

  • Which behaviors from Colossians 3 do you see in yourself?
  • What do you want to see more of instead?

Question to talk about together:

  • What’s one thing I could start doing or stop doing to improve how we talk to one another?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 6: How are you serving your spouse?

When was the last time you considered your spouse’s feelings and needs first and served them without keeping score? There are many ways to say “I love you,” but one of the best is to serve one another.

Serving our spouses puts their interests above our own. This takes humility, patience, and a desire for unity (Philippians 2:3-4). Between chores, kids, and work, it’s easy to forget marriage is our first and most important ministry. In serving one another, we’ll find we’re moving toward the mutual respect and submission God wants for our marriages.

Marriage is the best representation we have of the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As we willingly and sacrificially put each other first, we show the world what real, sacrificial love looks like.

Marriage shows the world what real, sacrificial love looks like. 

Submission in the Trinity is mutual, and the same is true in marriage. Wives are called to trust and respect their husband’s guidance and direction. Following his lead, even when we don’t agree, is a way of demonstrating our trust in God. Likewise, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, presenting her spotless and radiant, without blame or fault. Jesus loved the church so much that He gave up His life for her.

While Ephesians sets a pretty high standard, serving each other can start small. Serving your husband might mean listening to his day and encouraging him, instead of focusing on why he was wrong. Maybe it means learning to trust your husband’s opinions on the family finances.

Men, giving up your life for your wife can be as simple as listening to her vent or not mocking her yoga class. It can also mean taking extra work to provide for the family or making time to complete that never-ending honey-do list.

Selfless love and service reach the deepest crevices of the heart. If we want to show our spouses we love them, we start by serving and submitting to one another.

Questions for him:

  • What are three things you love about your wife?
  • How can you show her this week how much you love those things about her?

Questions for her:

  • Is there an area of your marriage where you aren’t trusting your husband’s input?
  • Where does that lack of trust come from?

Question to answer together:

  • Fill in the blank: One way you could serve me better is to _______.

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 7: How to Be More Romantic

“Do you have a reservation?”

“Yes. Do you have a table ready for me and the girl of my dreams?”

Cue butterflies, batting eyelashes, and beaming smiles.

Romance makes moments like these possible, but real romance requires more than the fleeting feeling you get from holding hands while walking on the beach. Real romance is bigger than the butterflies after your first kiss. It ripens over time as you learn to pursue your spouse the way God pursues you.

What can we learn about romance from the way Jesus pursues us? A lot.

Love is an action.

First, we learn that love is an action. God loves us so much, He sent His one and only Son to pay the ultimate price for our true freedom (John 3:16). Jesus stepped out of heaven and took the form of a man to make a way for us to experience a perfect relationship with God. Jesus’ action stirs our affection for God and models extreme romantic pursuit.

Second, we learn that love involves sacrifice. Jesus willingly offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin (1 John 3:16). His example is what inspires us to lay aside our preferences, pride, and selfish desires to pursue another.

As we pursue God’s heart and learn that He’s been romancing us all along, we find Him waiting, arms opened wide, full of affection, comfort, and sheer delight. As we experience God’s love in increasing measure, we can’t help but share it with our spouse.

Romantic interest sparks a desire to know more about a person. It’s something God designed for so much more than helping your partner feel special. It’s the hunger and thirst that tells our heart there’s always more to know and experience about each other.

Question for him:

  • What romantic things have you stopped doing that you could start doing again?

Question for her:

  • What’s the most romantic thing you and your spouse have ever done for each other?

Questions to talk about together:

  • How is God pursuing you right now? How have you seen Him pursue you in the past?
  • What’s one way I could show you love today?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 8: Sex Is Sacred

God created sex, and it is good!

When God brought Adam and Eve together in the Garden of Eden for the first marriage ceremony, they were naked and had no shame (Genesis 2:25).

The Bible has a high view of sex in a covenant marriage between husband and wife. Hebrews 13:4 says everything about the marriage bed is pure and holy. So shame or awkwardness don’t belong there.

The Bible says to enjoy sex and dedicates an entire book, the Song of Solomon, to celebrating the sensual side of marriage — sometimes in explicit detail (Proverbs 5:18-19).

Sex is so important to a happy marriage that the apostle Paul warns spouses not to withhold sex or use it as a bargaining chip. Sex is so holy and good that only prayer can take its place, for a short, mutually-agreed upon season (1 Corinthians 7:3-5).

As with all good gifts from God, sex is under constant attack by the enemy. Whether it’s the physical demands of our schedules or nighttime routines that kill romance, sex in marriage can become an afterthought — dutiful, selfish, or lazy.

The key to sex in a great marriage is to hold sex in high honor. God wants us to see sex as a sacred, spiritual act, a way to worship Him for the gift of your spouse. Making time for sex and learning what it takes to make sex more pleasurable for each other is the most basic way to show that it matters to God and it matters to you.

Better sex is a spiritual connection to be more fully expressed.

Elevating our view of sex requires open communication about each other’s expectations, likes and dislikes, discomforts, and struggles. In a culture of sexual brokenness, our attitudes and feelings toward sex are often filled with lies.

Most importantly, sex can’t be treated as separate to your marriage. The best sex is a celebration of the trust, intimacy, safety, affection, and service inside your marriage. Better sex is a spiritual connection to be more fully expressed.

Questions for him:

  • Is your attitude toward sex more than just physical? How would your wife see that?

Questions for her:

  • What emotional barriers do you have to sex, if any? Where do those barriers come from?

Question to talk about together:

  • What’s one physical and one emotional way you can improve your sex life?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 9: Why Dreaming Together Is a Powerful Practice

We were designed to dream.

According to psychologists and neuroscientists, looking into the future, consciously and unconsciously, is uniquely human and a central function of our brains. While other animals consider the future — ants store food, squirrels bury nuts — no other member of God’s creation plans as far out as we do and experiences the joy we get from looking ahead to what could be.

God wired us to plan for the future. He put a longing for eternity in our hearts, like a beacon guiding us toward Him (Ecclesiastes 3:11). So it shouldn’t surprise us that when taking the time to dream, to consider what is and what could be, it draws us closer to God and each other.

God put a longing for eternity in our hearts, like a beacon guiding us toward Him. 

We all have our five-year plans. Maybe they aren’t written down. And maybe you’ve never shared your dreams with anyone else. But we all have them. We are dreamers at our core, and when we marry, our spouse’s dreams should become ours as well.

Planning for the future is an opportunity to build trust. Sharing our hearts’ desires requires vulnerability. It also puts us in a position to trust Jesus with the unknown.

Proverbs 16:2-3 reminds us that, “All a person’s ways seem pure to them, but motives are weighed by the Lord. Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”

If we want our plans to matter for eternity, we need Jesus at the center of them. We get easily distracted by what looks good, but Jesus reveals what is good. When we’re tempted to manipulate our spouse into seeing things our way or to put our dreams ahead of theirs, Jesus reminds us that serving each other brings greater joy than getting our own way.

Marriage is a commitment to mutual submission, to helping one another be who God made us to be. Unexpressed expectations will always lead to resentment. But when we plan together and pray together, we move forward together.

Question for him:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Question for her:

  • Where do you see yourself in five years?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What do you want to be different in your marriage this time next year?
  • What are your dreams for your family? Your career? Your relationships with others?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church

Day 11: You Are a New Family Who Can Make New Traditions

One love story, one ceremony, one brand-new life starting from two totally different families.

When you marry, you are gaining a spouse and a new family. One that has its own routines, habits, and traditions that will be undeniably different from your own. Much of the pressure we face in marriage comes from the task of merging two separate lives into one.

That’s why it’s important to remember that when we marry, we form a new family with new traditions (Genesis 2:24). We don’t have to do everything the way either of our parents did. Our love for our parents is not measured by how much of our childhoods we replicate in our own families.

You don’t have to do everything the way either of your parents did.

In marriage and in parenting, God entrusts you with a responsibility — to love Him and love others. In Deuteronomy 6:5-7, God calls us to love Him with all our heart, soul, and strength, and to pass His commandments on to our kids. God’s Word is to be the focus of our hearts, not where we spend the holidays or how we celebrate with our kids.

If we’ll seek to please God, rather than trying to appease our in-laws, we’ll set up our marriages and our families for success. This might mean building a life that looks totally different than the families you came from — one where you study the Bible and pray together, where church is a priority and your closest relationships are with your spiritual family rather than your biological family.

Through our everyday life, we are to build our family values on loving God with everything we have. When we do, we give our kids a greater gift than the traditions we grew up with. We show them a God who loves them and we pass our faith to the next generation (Proverbs 13:22).

If we set our sights on something more important than the pressures of extended families and focus on Jesus, our marriage will be fertile soil and our faith will grow into a strong tree. Our children will play in that tree, and our grandchildren will be able to swing from the branches.

Questions for him:

  • What do you want to keep or change from your upbringing?

Questions for her:

  • What do you want to keep or change from your upbringing?

Questions to talk about together:

  • What are your dreams for your family?
  • What is the legacy you want to leave your kids?

Article courtesy of NewSpring Church