Here is the Preface of my new book coming out on marriage.
God’s precepts on building a great marriage and Biblical instruction on making marriage work and succeed even in times of stress and turmoil.
“However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:33
The world tells you that it is all about you; your needs to be fulfilled. That marriage is about making me—yes, ‘ME,’–happy! Look at all the excitement of the pursuit, the proposal, the engagement, the wedding plans and so forth. Jump ahead a year, two years or ten. What do you have? Do you have the thrill, the rush, the anticipation? For most, not so much. The fact is, that seeking to be fulfilled did not work out so well.
Why? There are two of you in the marriage, and you cannot be fulfilled and happy if you do so at the other’s expense; unfortunately, this tends to happen over time. Blessedly, there is a solution to bring back that excitement, hope, and wonder. The Bible has a better plan, and the Bible gives all the instruction to make a marriage work, a wondrous marriage. It is about understanding and applying what love and marriage really is to be about and the practice of real forgiveness. Of course, communication is important, too. If we do not know what marriage is supposed to be about and only focus on what we want it to be, we will fail. We will fail. If we refuse to know and practice real love, we will have only sadness and brokenness. If we are not willing to forgive, we have…nothing. We have nothing ahead, except broken expectations, disappointments, and hurts that create anger, bitterness, and a life of dysfunction ultimately ending in divorce or general unpleasantness!
Remember, though, you can have joy and real purpose in your marriage; you can escape a relationship rife with chaos and dysfunction. You and your spouse can have a successful marriage!
In this book, I will help guide you through the insights from God’s Word. That love may be a noun as a word, as in a person, or place or thing; but, it is more of a call to action, to be and thus, a verb. Thus, marriage too is a verb, a call to action.
The efforts and guidance for this endeavor is based on the Word of God and learning and distilling from more than 20 years of research and 19 years of humbling practice. (Remember, you have no need to rely solely on what I say; look it up for yourselves in the Bible.) You can build a good marriage if you want to learn to love, respect, forgive, pray, and be humble in your relationship with Christ and with your spouse, then you will succeed.
God tells us what makes a good marriage, fun, and enjoyable. This book aims to guide you, in Christ, to a wondrous marriage. The challenge in this book is for you who are already married and how to realize all the joy of a good marriage. If you are looking for advice and guidance about finding a potential spouse, I encourage you to still immerse yourself in God’s Word and, perhaps, check out my book, “Healthy Relationships.”
The ultimate goal of this book is to let you know that your marriage can be good. It can be fun. You can be close best friends.
Unfortunately, many marriages don’t seem to have this. I will not bore you with statistics, but over half of marriages are in trouble, and the rest, well only one eighth consider both husband and wife to be happy. The rest—you and me–want better marriages, but feel stuck, stagnant, even hopeless. They feel frustrated and hurt; they feel that maybe they’ve made a mistake and wish for a time machine, a do over button, or a redo switch. Too many feel that the fun, adventure, and happiness is in the past, but that is just not true. You can be close and grow closer together. Your marriage can be an exciting adventure that is meaningful and encouraging to both of you.
In fact, your marriage can be the best part of your life.
You perhaps are thinking, “What is the catch”? Okay, there is a bit of a catch. Like anything worthwhile and important, a good marriage requires work, commitment, and maintenance to be effectual. This book is about how to go about that. Like anything worth doing, you have to be willing to do it. You have to want a healthier marriage; you need to work on better communication. You do need to pray with one another. You have to know what it means to cherish and what is respect; you must learn what love is and what it is not. You have to see what God has for you, not just what you want. Finally, you must want it to get it.
Look at it like this. When you first started to drive, did you know what you know now? Are you a better driver now? I hope so. But, when you first started, I bet you thought you knew it all, you were so excited, you did not always listen to wise instruction. You made mistakes because you didn’t listen to advice and because life is about experience. You learned the rules of the road and gained valuable experience, because you practiced and worked at it. You worked at this because you needed to; you realized you needed this skill—it is a necessity. Marriage is much like learning to drive. Even with the feelings, desire, and intention to love, communicate, and forgive, we may not have had good role models, instruction, or counsel. Maybe we disregarded God’s Word or didn’t even know of God’s plan for us. You had all the hope, enthusiasm, the willpower and a wish to make it work. Slowly, you may have realized that marriage is tough and, instead of working on it or knowing how to work on it, you became disillusioned, frustrated, or complacent. Or, maybe you did work on it—read a book, listened to others, changed certain behaviors—without lasting success. Maybe, you have given your marriage, your “all” to no avail. So, you want to give up or shut down.
I encourage you to be bold and brave! In Christ, you CAN move from the darkness of hurts and live in the Light of Christ.
Surrendering to the Lord and reading God’s Word with the Holy Spirit in you guiding you, you absolutely will behold a wondrous revolution in your lives together. If you are already blessed with a good marriage, consider this a tune-up, building upon the hard work and commitment that you have already realized in a good relationship. You and your spouse is worth this much.
What spawned this endeavor?
In the 1970’s, Edith Schaeffer–and others–occasionally did marriage retreats; I was fortunate enough be at a few as a kid and later, to rediscover her notes. Upon finding the notes, I combined them with my own knowledge gained while researching and ghostwriting a book for an eminent Christian psychologist and used it for sermons and also Bible studies for couples. In my research, I noticed that critical biblical insights were overlooked. This frustrated me. I felt frustrated that so many books on marriage are written for the Christian world based on man’s psychological theories while God’s Word is barely addressed or treated as a buffet; even worse, some materials, even take God’s Word and take the Word out of context and twist it to serve the author’s purpose and not glorify Christ and His “true Truths.” Thus, the main points God has for us are missing. This is the fruit of the combined work and is designed to be used as a tool for a retreat, seminar, pastoral counseling, professional Christian counseling, sermon guide, and/or personal devotion and for me, a how to guide that I can keep going back to for advice and help.
How this Book was made?
This book is not about my theories or some personal agenda; rather, this work is based on God’s precepts on building a great marriage. What I have done here is read the Bible, conduct some real research and extract the prime precepts, practiced them and practically lay them out for you. While I understand that the concepts are easy and that the practice can be difficult, this is completely doable even in the most barren circumstances.
This love and marriage book is also based on over 25 years of careful exegetical research and pastoral counseling experience. Primarily, this series is based carefully on the Bible’s timeless truths. It is not about psychological fads or theories. The goal is to find the best real answers from the timeless truths for real help to those who just need to know or who are down and out and do not know where to go. The main viewpoints and directions are what the Lord gives us from His Word so that we can better prepare and practice for the second most important thing we will ever do in life (the first being our salvation).
In addition to the Word, research and experience, over 100 couples in fulfilling, long-lasting marriages were interviewed, which facilitated the “Tips.” To round this out, some key research was gleaned from the Schaeffer Institute, the Fuller Institute, and Fuller Seminary. Included in interviews and consultations were: Ray Stedman, Chuck Miller, Dr. John Gottman, Edith Schaeffer, Dr. Julie Gorman, Dr. Archibald Heart, John Stott, Dr. Clyde Narramore and many other professionals including many seasoned pastors and Christian counselors.
This is a work is also one of practice–the trials and errors of a married man who has made the mistakes and tried his best to be better, who has failed and has succeeded to be the best spouse that one can be. I have never been unfaithful, praise God; but, I have had to examine how faithful I have been in my loving and adoration, in my cherishing, forgiving, affections, even when times have been bad and daunting. I am a work in progress, as we all are.
You have in your hands a colossal endeavor that has been simplified and made practical for you.
You CAN build a healthy marriage that glorifies Christ as Lord.
Who is this Book for?
It is for me. It is for you. This book is for couples seeking pre-marriage counseling and for married couples who desire God’s call in their marriage or refreshment of the marital relationship. It is also for those who are having doubts, troubles, or hurts. It is for those who are feeling overwhelmed and, maybe, hopeless in their relationship. This is for those who just want to grow closer to the Lord and live in a marriage that is blessed and led by Christ. This is for those who just want a “how to,” one easy to read compressive book on marriage that has all they need and they can keep referring to. This is an invitation to come see what our Lord, through His Word, has to say about building a great lasting marriage.
How to use this marriage book
Like any book, just read it and be in prayer. Ask, How can I change and apply these precepts and be humble to make it work? You can discuss this with your spouse and/or in a small group. This book has a ‘tag-team’ approach. I will present a biblical description, such as an aspect of Love–what it is, how to know it, and apply it into your life and marriage. Next, I will present a key aspect on how to build an effectual marriage. In addition, we have discussion questions to challenge, inspire, provoke and help you process these true Truth from Scripture and the ideas distilled from those passages. Then we have dozens of “Marriage Tips,” that will help focus you in the right direction, give practical help and encouragement. Perhaps, read and practice one each day. See the Appendix for a complete listing.
How to use this marriage book as a workshop
In addition to using this personally in your marriage and in fellowship in small groups, you could also this in a workshop setting. This endeavor will be a seminar and or a devotional format. I suggest to have your people read the book first, or one chapter at a time, and then discuss the key points of need and do the questions. Perhaps go over one chapter for a day seminar or three chapters for a weekend retreat. Any chapter(s) can be used; however, the main ones I suggest are, Chapter 3 The Love Challenge, Chapter 6 Marriage where Real Love is Practiced, Chapter 7 Cherish and Respect, and you can have a seminar with a financial planner and do Chapter 18 Marriage Money Matters with the Appendix of Budgeting ideas, or a seminar with Chapter 19 Divorce Proof Your Marriage or, Chapter 20 The Marriage Tune-up!
The passages, main points, and some applications are given, so you can read, be challenged, equipped, inspired and encouraged, to make a wondrous marriage begin. In addition, I will take you into a journey of what love is and what it is not. You will get an aspect of love and a session on what a biblical marriage looks like to work on at your own pace.
Thus, this book can be used as a personal mentor for individuals and can be done individually, but it is best to do alongside with your spouse or fiancé, small group, or with a qualified pastor or counselor. This book can also be used for a community workshop or class.
I recommend that this be a journey to be done together as a couple, and you can share with a counselor or a small group or marriage retreat. The appendixes are additional resources for you and for counselors. It is best to follow a sequence that looks like this: Read the passages and curriculum, discuss with your spouse, be committed to listen, be open for criticism, be forgiving and remember the Fruit of the Spirit from Galatians, Chapter Five. Try to practice the ‘Tips” as much as possible. Then, follow through with a counselor or mentor, and remember to stay in prayer with an attitude of I can do this, I can have a wondrous marriage, I can make it work.
Let us look at how to prepare and build for a successful marriage.
First, read 1 Corinthians 7:1-11, 39-40, 13:1-13, be committed to learn, forgive and engage God’s Truth and apply His precepts to your life. The revolution for the healthier marriage begins.
Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.” 2 Timothy 2:19