Pre-Marriage Counseling is Like Cramming for an Exam

Last week I sat down with a young couple for some pre-marriage counseling. They both were homeschooled and grew up in solid homes. I told them that in some ways pre-marriage counseling is like cramming for an exam. It is possible to get some new information that way, but not the best way to really learn something. I explained that all that they know about marriage, whether good or bad, they have already learned from their parents. They have been receiving pre-marriage counseling for most of their lives!

During our meeting the young man told me about a homeschoooled friend of his whose marriage only lasted a couple of years! Growing up in a “Christian homeschool” home is no guarantee for a lasting marriage.

Dads and Moms, please don’t forget that you are not only teaching your children about work, math, character, writing, and money managment. Whether you realize it or not, every day you are teaching your children about marriage! Step back and ask yourself what you are teaching them. Do you want your children to have a marriage like yours?

Regular investment and growth in your marriage is a wonderful way to minister to your children. That is why we are putting on a Marriage Conference called Finding Peace and Purpose in your Marriage [Boone, NC on March 16-18, 2017]. Check out this link for more information.

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I Love My Wife . . . and Ice Cream!

What does it mean to love others? This is an important question because our culture and language use the word love with such varying and casual meanings. “I love ice cream!” “I love football!” “I love fishing.” “I love my wife!” In fact, just this week I told my wife that I loved her and she asked me, “What do you mean by that?” I’m pretty sure my wife wants me to love her in a different way than I love ice cream.

Our culture talks about being “in love.” When we say we are “in love,” we are talking about how we feel or how much we like someone or something. Unfortunately, this is exactly NOT what love is according to the Bible. Love is self-sacrifice for the good of another person.

“Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends.”
John 15:13

“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast;
it is not arrogant or rude.
It does not insist on its own way;
it is not irritable or resentful.”

1 Corinthians 13:4-5

Love has nothing to do with how we feel. In fact, love is what we do in spite of how we may feel. Love has nothing to do with what we get out of it. Real love is about giving, not getting. Jesus said,

“For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?
Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
And if you greet only your brothers,
what more are you doing than others?
Do not even the Gentiles do the same?”

Matthew 5:46-47

Once again, God calls us to deny ourselves and do things his way. This requires faith. The world and Satan have convinced us that if we get what we want, we will be happy. This is a lie. Selfishness actually does not lead us to fulfillment and happiness. When we deny ourselves and love God, we find that he is all we ever needed or wanted! In the same way, when we deny ourselves and love others, we find joy and satisfaction. Even unbelievers who live a life of service can tell you this!

How to Have a Love that Lasts

“I love ice cream!” “I love football!” “I love my wife!” This is how we use the word “love.” When I told my wife that I loved her this week, she asked me, “What do you mean by that?” I’m pretty sure my wife wants me to love her in a different way than I love ice cream!

Our culture has a love problem. One way we know there is a love problem is that it doesn’t last. Marriages and families are breaking apart all over the place. The love of our culture does not last because it is misplaced and misunderstood.

Do you want a love that lasts? Do you want your marriage to last?

Here is my prayer for you.


"That you, being rooted and grounded in love,
may have strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

(Ephesians 3:1-19 ESV)

Believers are to be rooted and grounded in the love of Christ. The word “rooted” gives us a picture of a strong, healthy tree that is deeply planted in the soil. It can withstand the difficult storms of life. The word “grounded” gives us a picture of a strong building constructed on a solid foundation. It can withstand the difficult storms of life.

I want to encourage you to root your marriage in the love of Christ, to build your home on the solid foundation of the love of Christ. Here are two ways you can do it.

1. Let your love for Christ be greater than your love for one another.

    “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother
and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.”

(Luke 14:26 ESV)

We know Jesus does not want us hate our family members. In the book of Matthew he explains it another way.

“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me,
and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
(Matthew 10:37 ESV)

As I said, the love of the world doesn’t last because it is misplaced. We often look to others for fulfillment instead of Christ. We place our focus, loyalty, and service on others, instead of Christ. Only Christ can give us fullness and life and peace. Even a husband or wife cannot do this.

But if you set your heart and love on Christ above all, you will find absolute peace and satisfaction. And when two people are filled with and share Christ’s love . . . Wow! It is amazing. If you want to share real, lasting love, then plant your own love deeply into the love of Christ!

2. Let your love follow Christ’s example.

In our culture, the symbol for love is the heart. We associate this with feelings. When we say we love something (“I love ice cream!”) or someone, we are saying that we really like them. Our culture has misunderstood love as emotions.

Do you know what the symbol of love is in the Bible? Not the heart. It is the cross.

"Greater love has no one than this,
that someone lay down his life for his friends." 
(John 15:13 ESV)

In his first letter, John explains that we know what love is because God sent his son to die and save us from our sins. Love is not getting, it is giving. Like Jesus, love is sacrificing ourselves for the good of another.

So, here is what I am saying. If your first love is Christ and you find your fulness in him, and if you live sacrificially for the good of your spouse, your love will never be shaken!

Why Did God Make Marriage?

On April 25, 2015, our church had the privilege of witnessing the marriage of Galen Wilkes and Victoria Stringer! It was a beautiful time. The way that God brought them together is a great testimony of his goodness as we trust in his ways.

I am sharing the audio recording of the brief charge I gave to them at the ceremony. Why did God make marriage?

How to Survive the #1 Attack on Marriage

 Galen Wilkes and Victoria Stringer are getting married April 24, 2015!

Galen Wilkes and Victoria Stringer are getting married April 24, 2015!

Your marriage is under attack. I bet you can feel it. The world, the flesh, and Satan are all working to keep your marriage from being a powerhouse for God's kingdom. I have always been committed to my marriage, to never giving up or getting a divorce. But when I recently studied Matt 19: 1-12, Jesus' teaching on divorce, I gained insight into how God designed marriage and how he sees it. It only deepened my understanding and commitment to God's awesome creation in marriage!

Here is a recording of my teaching on this passage, given last Sunday, April 19, at our church, Highland Christian Fellowship. This passage contains Jesus' teaching on divorce. While there is a brief discussion at the end of the teaching on the exception clause (which is what is often discussed), I focused on Jesus' main point in the teaching: God does not want his people to divorce.

When we study Jesus' reasoning for this, we get a rich understanding of the nature of marriage!

God's people are not to divorce
because God designed marriage to be the exclusive union
of a man and woman through sexual intimacy.

Change Your Marriage in One Weekend?

If you could change your marriage in ONE weekend, would you do it? God can do it if you will seek him and apply these biblical principles for your life. In addition to great food and time alone together, we will be discussing how to have a PEACE and PURPOSE in your marriage.

The following topics will be explored:

  • What is God’s purpose for marriage?
  • Why are there so many broken marriages?
  • What are the roles of husbands and wives?
  • What do I do if my spouse is doing something wrong?
  • How do we have a peaceful, productive conversation?
  • How do we build a fulfilling marriage?

Here is a description of the accommodations at Cherokee Cove in Mountain City, TN:

"The lodging will be in the newly built Evergreen Village. These cozy log cabins are privately situated amidst wooded and long range views.  Each uniquely decorated cabin has it’s own front porch and is equipped with a queen sized bed with fine linens; a full bath with lush towels; coffee maker and coffee, cream, sugar and tea bags; and a welcome basket.  Meals include “welcome snacks” and dinner on Friday, Saturday breakfast, lunch and dinner, and Sunday brunch.  Hot and cold beverages are available from 7 am until 10 pm daily.

Total cost is $250 per couple. The menu will include fresh, locally grown produce, organic, home baked breads, wild caught fish, and beef and/or pork and chicken.  All meals are prepared fresh daily and that are “catered” to the needs of the guests, so feel free to inform us of any food allergies and special requests.

How to Solve Problems in Your Relationships [Podcast #17]

This podcast episode is the third and final part of the session I taught at the North Carolinians for Home Education Conference, "How to Stop the Fighting in Your Home." You can view the prezi for this session here.

It is a brief explanation of the 9 Steps for Conflict Resolution I have already blogged about in several posts that starts here, or I have consolidated into one article.

Teach your children biblical conflict resolution. 

  • Give space (James 1:19).
  • Check yourself  (Matt 7:3-5).
  • Let go of anger (Eph 4:26-27; Matt 18:21-35).
  • Love (Mark 12:30; Gal 5:14).
  • Pray (Matt 5:44; James 1:5-8).
  • Talk about it (Prov 18:13;15:1).
  • Discern the issue (Rom 14:1-12).
  • Speak the truth (Matt 18:15; Eph 4:15; Gal 6:1).
  • Give space

How to Stop Fighting Your Spouse [Podcast #15]

This podcast episode is the first part of the session I taught at the North Carolinians for Home Education Conference, "How to Stop the Fighting in Your Home." You can view the prezi for this session here.

Why do we want to stop the fighting in our home?

  • Because it is pleasant to have a peaceful home (Prov 17:1).
  • Because we want to love and obey God (Eph 4:1-4).
  • Because we want to prepare our children for a life of maturity (Eph 6:4).

Three ways to stop the fighting in your home:

1.        Set a peaceful example.

  • Stop fighting your spouse (Prov 26:21; Prov 21:19).
  • Stop fighting your children (Eph 6:4; Prov 15:1).