What Makes Jesus Compelling?

What makes Jesus so compelling? This is a question brought out by Francis and Lisa Chan in their recently published book on marriage, “You and Me Forever.” I wanted to challenge us with this question this week. Because the more we are “compelled” by Jesus the less we will be “compelled” by the world. 
 
So what do you find most compelling about Jesus? What does scripture say is compelling about Him? Hope this question encourages you to dive into the endless oceans of God’s grace. To see His worth in truth makes the idols of this world look like rubbish (Philippians 3:7-9).
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What Does It Mean To Be Unveiled?

As most of you know, I have had the honor to be a part of Jennifer Smith’s ministry, Unveiled Wife as a Writing Contributor. Her ministry has blessed me, my marriage, and has grown me as a wife and a writer. Recently, I was able to read an Advanced Copy of Jen’s newest book, “The Unveiled Wife”. I cannot explain to you how her authenticity and transparency has encouraged me and my marriage.

Within the book, Jen goes back in time to share authentically her struggles as a new bride. She opens up about the obstacles that her and her husband, Aaron faced and how God saved their marriage. This book is raw, transparent, and what our culture needs.

One of the biggest things that has impacted me and my walk with the Lord was coming to terms with what being “unveiled” truly means. Jen puts it so beautifully in the #UnveiledWifeBook:

“An unveiled wife is real and transparent. She is authentic in what she does and what she says. An unveiled wife pursues love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control  (see Galatians 5:22-23). She surrenders her pride and lets down the walls of her heart, vulnerably trusting God with her life”.

unveiled-wife-4When Drew and I first began our blog, Love Uncensored, our main objective was to be authentic and love others fearlessly [Read more about our passion]. What I have learned since then is that being vulnerable is extremely difficult. We tend to allow the lies of Satan to enter in and convince us that we need to hide our story. Satan wants us to live in a place of shame, guilt, and conceal our brokeness from others. But God’s desire for us is to be free! He doesn’t want us to live shackled to our past.

God’s desire for us is to be unveiled!

When we become unveiled before God, our spouse, and others, we experience the freedom of God’s amazing grace. In her book, Jen says “When anyone turns toward the Lord, the veil is taken away, freedom to be authentic comes, and transformation takes place”. I don’t know about you, but I am so thankful that we have the unconditional love from our great Redeemer and Savior, Jesus. When we turn to Him and become unveiled… He moves, He transforms, He is glorified, and we experience His healing and restoration. God longs for us to embrace who we are, the story that He has intertwined for us, and to be unveiled as we point others to Christ! The beauty of all of our stories is that they are all different, yet we aren’t alone in our struggles. So often we think we need to trudge through the mud by ourself, unable to realize that someone else could possibly understand our story. As Jen shared her heart, and her journey of becoming unveiled, I so wanted to give her a huge hug and say “Me too”! If you are in that place of brokenness, I encourage you to share your story. Whatever that may be or look like for you, please do not go through it alone. Hearing a “Me too” can be just what your heart needs right now. Being unveiled is a process, and God will equip you for the journey ahead. Simply take the leap of faith, embrace your story and the freedom that awaits. Be unveiled!

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portrait-circleMore about The Unveiled Wife:
Jennifer Smith began UnveiledWife.com, a web-based ministry for wives, in March 2011. She publishes weekly marriage articles including encouragements, devotions, and prayers of the day. She authored The Unveiled Wife, Wife After God, and 31 Prayers For My Husband. She is passionately devoted to encouraging wives all around the world to develop God-centered marriages. Jennifer and her family reside in Central Oregon.

Social media is a large part of Jennifer’s ministry for Unveiled Wife via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest, where she serves a community of over 450,000 wives. Connect with Jennifer on social media @unveiledwife!

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The Cheerleader Spouse

The purpose of the cheerleader is to LEAD in cheering or rooting for a team. Basically, a cheerleader is supposed to lead in encouraging a team to victory. And this is exactly what we are called to be with our spouses. To be the biggest cheerleader our spouse has. This is for guys and girls. So guys, don’t check out just just because of the title.

You might think that you aren’t a very cheery person. That’s okay. You don’t have to be. There are three very easy ways to encourage your spouse: 1) Encourage them in their strengths. 2) Encourage them in their pursuits. 3) Invest in their pursuits.

Encouraging Your Spouse’s Strengths

Out of the three, this is the easiest way to encourage your mate. All you have to do is look for the many things your spouse does well, then dote on them as they do them. Do this as often as possible to build them up. Love your spouse sincerely in this way, without being fake or using flattery, and you will find yourself actually falling deeper in love with your spouse. Why? Because you are thinking of all that is wonderful about them instead of focusing on their faults.

Encourage What Your Spouse Pursues

Every person has a passionate desire to excel in a certain area. This purposefulness is placed in each of us by our Creator to be used for His glory. And you have a great power over your spouse in whether they feel encouraged to excel in their passions. For you can crush their heart by discouraging their pursuit or their lack of ability in the area they are pursuing. OR, you can become a great source of encouragement and motivation in their pursuit. Just so it is clear, your spouse wants you to believe in them more than you believe in their weakness. So even if the task seems impossible, believe in your spouse and make it evident that you do. If you do not believe in them as their best friend and spouse, they will feel that and will be less likely to succeed. Not only this, but your lack of support will cause resentment in your marriage. – Your encouragement matters to your spouse.

Invest In Your Spouse’s Pursuit

The only way you can encourage your spouse more than telling them you believe in them, is actually showing it. So husbands & wives, put your money where your mouth is and get involved in what your spouse is pursuing. Ask them how you can help them in their pursuit, and then do what they ask of you. You will score a lot of points if you genuinely say this, “Love, I believe in you. So much so that I want to be involved. How can I be a part of it?” If you prioritize what matters to your mate, they will feel loved by you.

Though there are other ways to encourage your spouse, these three areas will do wonders to marriages if they will be put into practice. So be your spouse’s greatest cheerleader. Be their greatest supporter and genuinely believe in them and what they are pursuing! This a wonderful part of getting to love our spouse. To see what wonders God works in the heart of our spouse through us cheering them on!

Falling Deeper In Love With Your Spouse

It is difficult for many Christians to live in a culture that only puts the puppy love phase of dating onscreen. Then the movie ends with a couple just before, during, or just after the wedding, and we are left to think they live happily ever after. But, what does happily ever after actually look like? We usually don’t see that. Why? Because the process and time that real love takes in order to root itself into our hearts would not be as engaging to watch. The problem with letting movies define how love should be is it is an incomplete picture. But let’s get this straight right now… the puppy love portion of onscreen tales pales in comparison to the beauty of a deeper, growing love with your mate that is built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ. Please do not buy into the LIE that a a long lasting, ever growing love has to be boring. It can be wonderfully exciting and way more enjoyable than settling for an endless string of short relationships.

One of the saddest things I think I’ve ever heard is someone say, “We fell out of love, so we called it quits”. Though I know this happens, I also know that it is up to a husband and wife to choose NOT to fall out of love.

When I first got married, I thought that when you added sex to the equation, all would be wonderfully seductive and love would automatically multiply. But… I was mistaken. Not that Melissa isn’t sexy. I think she’s truly amazing inside and out. I thoroughly enjoy who she is and what she looks like! But the point is, I misunderstood how love grows. Somehow I was under the impression that love in marriage would be easier. But I found out as many do, that the mysterious and somewhat mischievous excitement of dating was fading quickly in the beginning. And it made me feel like a failure in my love for Melissa. But what I found was, I expected love to be like it was in the movies… but I didn’t know what to do once the movie part was over.

To add to the whole “movie love” mentality I came to realize that I was more of a typical guy than what I’d like to admit. Honestly, I enjoyed the excitement of the chase in dating, but once we got married, I was foolish enough to assume Melissa was mine. That the excitement of the chase was over. But that’s where I was WAY OFF! And this is where most of our world gets marriage wrong. Because this is when the excitement actually begins.

Here’s the thing men… and ladies… each human heart is a unique ocean, filled with endless depths, and more caverns and crevices than we could fully know. Such is the grace of our Creator to make every heart different, complex, and therefore beautiful. Meaning, we might be married to a person, but the chase of knowing and loving them is not over until we breathe our last. And in that revelation, the excitement I thought was lost when we got married was reawakened.

A new fervor to know the depths of who my wife is and what makes her tick became a very curious thing to me. And the old saying that, “you don’t truly enjoy something until you learn about it”, took on a whole new meaning. This is when Operation: Love Her commenced. I began an ongoing number of experiments to see what she enjoyed most. I would try to hug her more often and take note of her reaction. I found out that though she likes hugs, this was not a deal breaker for her. As was mentioned in a previous post, I began to do more house work, and found that she sincerely felt more loved and understood when I did this. I tried giving her a massage one evening and found that I really could never go wrong by doing this. So, more massages for Melissa.

I tried many things that she didn’t enjoy as well. But, that’s an important part of the process too.

I also began asking more questions about her. Who she was. I asked her more about her desires and dreams and how I could help in her pursuit of them… And such are the basic elements of the never ending adventure of beginning to love your mate. There is nothing boring about this. It is truly exciting to love and serve the one that God has given you in marriage. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt. But the treasure only increases as love grows, and the adventure never ends. One of the exciting things I have realized is that by the grace of our God, Melissa never stops growing and changing. So the person she was five years ago, and the person she is now are vastly different. This means that if I am continuing in the game of chase, I will also evolve in loving her as her desires and wants change.

All this to say – The excitement and love in your marriage has NOT died unless you have killed it. But whether love has died, or is fresh, there is hope. No matter where you are, you can begin afresh today by choosing to pursue your spouse in the same way and more than before you got married. Get to know the endless depths of their heart, and to love them in the way they desire to be loved.What’s amazing about loving a person with such passion is not just the grace you’re giving them, but the healing and building up affect it will have on your marriage.

 

For Better Or Worse

This is part of our series: What I wish I would have known: My first year of marriage

Do you remember the vows you made to your spouse the day you got married? If I am being completely honest, if it wasn’t for our wedding video I may not remember the actual vows we repeated. For shame. The whole time I was just trying to hold it together -no one wants the bride to completely ruin her makeup on the most important day of her life. I was also trying not to stumble or skip a word. Talk about pressure!

Of course I know the basics, the ones you hear all the time – but the details are fuzzy. The other day while watching Madagascar 2 with my son for about the 50 millionth time I was reminded, in a humorous way, how marriage truly is For Better or Worse. If you haven’t seen this precious movie – you must not have kids. Let me recap for you: a penguin named Skipper and a Bobble-Head Hula Girl named Lola are getting married. Common occurrence. During the wedding – the chaplain says the usual For Better or Worse – But instead of the typical response Skipper answers, “For Better Please”.

Skipper and Lola

For Better or Worse is not a question. You will have better times and you will have worse times.

Like Skipper, I too would love to bypass the hard times. Wouldn’t we all? I kind of think it is ironic that right after your vows you enter into the first year of marriage – which typically, and in my case was the hardest time, thus far.  Drew and I both have had many conversations about why it was so tough for us and we both came to this conclusion: We both had to battle our selfishness and come together as one flesh. 

God’s word says in Mark 10:8, “and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh.”

When you marry your spouse, you symbolically become one flesh. You are now one in the sight of God. That means you must be unified. Becoming one was a whole lot harder than we thought. We both came into the marriage with different opinions, different ideas and different selfish ambitions. But thankfully we both had the same firm foundation in Jesus Christ. Without that, I honestly don’t know if we would have made it past the first year.

In the hard times you must remember not only your vows, For Better or Worse – but also that life is not about you and it’s not even about your spouse. I know, harsh – right? Life is all about Christ.

When we make this life about about us, we live for us – we let our selfishness and sinful flesh rule our lives and destroy our marriage.

When our mindset is It’s all about us, we are more prone to walk away when times are tough. Once Drew and I truly surrendered to the Lord we both slowly began peeling off the layers of selfishness and began to allow God to reign in our lives and in our marriage. It is a daily battle that we still fight. But instead of fighting with each other, we are fighting for each other. In so doing, we are reflecting the love Christ has for us.

I encourage you to remember the vows you made with your spouse, but more than that – remember that life is all about Christ. And when you begin to focus on Him and you let Him transform your life – He will transform your marriage as well.

Breaking Down the Walls in Our Marriage

This is part of our series, What I wish I would have known: My first year of marriage

Many conversations between my wife and I during our first year of marriage were like skating on an extremely thin sheet of ice. No matter what we tried, it seemed like we were going to fall through and risk marital hypothermia every time we opened our mouths. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Where just about every time you talk to your spouse, you feel like someone gets hurt. Whether it’s you or the one you married, the more you hurt each other, it adds more heaviness and heartache to an already difficult life. And what used to be a fun loving relationship that you leaned on for rejuvenation, has become a weight that only adds to the stress you bear.

If you’ve never been there relationally, then I would put you in one of two categories. Either 1) You are completely blind to your situation and you don’t even recognize the load you bear. Or 2) You have only experienced perfect relationships, and you yourself are probably perfect as well. For all those in the second category, please stop reading our blog. We can’t help you, because you are not human. And whether you’re an angel or an alien, you have no business reading what mere mortals write. But, if you suspect you may be a part of the first category, then keep reading. The lights of reality may switch on shortly.

The truth is, we all want, and even passionately desire our marriage to be a relationship where we can’t wait to run to our spouse with every single good, bad, and ugly thing we go through in life. And we dream of our spouse actually enjoying getting to hear and respond to it all that we say with encouragement. Why do we desire this? Because if that were so, then our spouse would “get” us, and we would not only feel understood, but we would feel like our soul-mate is on our side through the thick and thin. I mean, isn’t that the dream. Hand-in-hand, we face this life together.

Most believe, as I did, that the false sense of this type of a “togetherness” that we share in dating our soon to be spouse will carry on for the rest of our lives in marriage. But there is something that happens when we get married that wasn’t happening when we were dating. And that is, that two lives become one. When two become one, we can’t hide all the areas of our lives that we conveniently cropped and edited during our dating relationship. When we become vulnerable and naked relationally, there are so many insecurities and selfish desires that we have to work through before it is even possible to “get” each other, and live life TOGETHER.

In the first year of my marriage, and even now, one of the most important questions I had to ask myself time and again when faced with insecurities, and self was:

Is this “issue” more important than my marriage?

Because, when we get down to it, besides God Himself, there is nothing in the world that is more important than our marriage. When I would ask myself this question with the answer being so obvious, a fresh perspective would help me do what is right. What is right? To always fight for your marriage!

Here is a true account of how this was put into action during my first year of marriage: I would get frustrated with my wife, Melissa because she didn’t understand how stressed I was over music stuff, and how that was the reason I didn’t think about cleaning off my dish before I left it in the sink. And she would get frustrated because she was stressed over her job and was justified in feeling like she didn’t want to do ALL the dishes, again. – So, I could have held onto my stubborn, and extremely selfish notion that I was just too stressed to do the dishes…. OR, I could get off my butt and realize, that no matter who is right or wrong in any situation, if doing the dishes will show my wife that I love her, then I SIMPLY NEED TO DO THE DISHES!

It’s not a question of right or wrong most of the time. Listen to what I’m about to write. Many, if not most of marital fights are over preference and/or selfish desires. You might say, well no, you were fighting over the dishes. When in actuality, it was really about selfishness. I was feeling sorry for myself because a song I was writing wasn’t quite coming together the way I wanted it to, and I deemed that stressful enough to think of only ME from then on out. – So think back to all the fights you have had with your spouse recently. When you really think about it, what was the cause of the fight? Was it because one or both of you were being selfish or stubborn? – And you better not just point the finger. Nothing gets done that way. Be honest about whether you share in the blame. Whatever part you played, fess up, and put your spouse first. Even if you don’t share in the blame, what could you do to show your spouse that you love them more than the issue at hand?

Whatever the case, here is how God helped Melissa and I really overcome this selfish issue that kept us feeling like we were walking on egg shells all the time around each other. We both decided to do whatever it took to fight for each other over our preferences. This means putting into practice the biblical principle of it being “more blessed to give than to receive”.

This very simple principle turned us around from being a very selfish couple, to being a hand-in-hand, facing this life together couple. Because as I started doing the dishes (among other things), realizing how much it meant to Melissa; and Melissa continually practiced things that I enjoyed, realizing how much it meant to me, we both felt understood, and TOGETHER. Another side effect of this was we would run to each other more quickly, desiring to share our lives with each other. Why? Because we saw that the other person was priority over self, and we actually longed to be there for each other.

Simply put… A marriage where both prioritize serving above taking, will be a LOVE FILLED marriage. The walls we put up because of insecurities and selfishness in marriage, can be broken down if we cease to use our spouse for what we can get, and instead spend our lives serving them in the grace and love our God has modeled for us.

What is a submissive wife?

This is part of our series, What I wish I would have known: My first year of marriage.

As of recently, the role of the wife became a touchy subject among feminist women especially after hearing Candace Cameron Bure use the word “submissive” in her new book, Balancing it all. She literally was attacked in social media and in interviews about her comment and she had to continually defend her faith and the biblical definition of “submissive”.

Ephesians 5:22-24, 33 says:

 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

 What does it mean to submit to your husband?

Sadly, the term submissive in society today is drastically different from our biblical term. Being a submissive wife does not make you a doormat. Contrary to what Hollywood may think, as a submissive wife you are able to speak, have opinions and actually make decisions. Shocking!

Submitting to our husband simply means to follow His lead. As believers we follow Christ, trusting Him, submitting to Him and seeking His will for our lives. As wives we must allow our husbands to perform his role as the leader by submitting to him as we do Christ. Just as Ephesians says “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord”. Just as we submit to Christ, we must also submit to our husband.

That means we must relinquish control when together as a couple we can’t find common ground. This is not easy. Especially since I am a stubborn, control-freak. I must rely on God and trust Him when I need to give up control. That is a continual battle that I need to intentionally chose to fight each and every day.

I know many of you may be thinking, what if my husband is not worth submitting to? I do not down play that question because honestly, I can’t imagine how I would feel if I was actually in your shoes. But I know that when I feel my control rise up I must remember who I am truly submitting to.

God.

In submitting to your husband, you are submitting to the Lord – who loves you. It really isn’t about your husband, it’s about following Christ’s command. I don’t submit to my husband because he is worthy. I submit to my husband because God is worthy; this is His design for marriage and we trust Him.

In submitting to your husband, you are following your King.