Archive for June, 2012

Job Descriptions: Christian Husband and Wife

Falling in love is easier than knowing what to do once you’re there. Marriage is similar to your final graduation. As long as you’re going to school, there is a clearly defined “next” (courses to complete, papers to write, tests to take, applications to fill out, etc…). Once you finish and can do “what you always wanted,” it is least clear how to make “it” happen. How do you get from degreed to employed? How do you get from employed to fulfilling work? How do you prevent fulfilling work from leading to burnout and find contentment?

Through the process of dating, engagement, wedding planning, ceremony, and honeymoon there is also a clear “next.” But, what do you do when you get home from the honeymoon? How do you get from being married to having marriage roles? How do you get from having defined roles to having a mutually fulfilling life? How do you find lasting contentment and avoid allowing roles from becoming stereotypes or relational ruts?

We will be looking to answer the following questions: (a) What does the Bible actually teach and what do Christians only culturally assume about gender roles? (b) What are the pre-requisites to the healthy and satisfying implementation of roles within marriage? (c) What kind of process can a couple walk through in order to effectively discover what roles will look like in their unique marriage?

There is an overlooked assumption in these questions – none of us know what we’re doing when we get started. Even if you grew up in a healthy family, there is no guarantee that what worked for your parents will work for you. Even within the guidance of biblical parameters, there is much that must be tailored to your unique personalities, skills, and schedules.

Another complicating variable is that gender mattered very little before marriage. Once you past the “cooties” stage of life, the only functional gender differences were which public restrooms you were allowed to use. Yet once we’re married, then God’s design for making us male and female takes on a significance that was largely irrelevant.

“Up until then [testimony of a newlywed couple], we had pretty much lived in a unisex world, as students taking the same classes, competing for the same grades on a level playing field, rarely forced into any consideration of what God’s intention may have been in making us male and female (p. 171).” Tim Keller in The Meaning of Marriage

Is it any wonder that gender roles are a frequent point of conflict and confusion? We haven’t even discussed the abuse of gender roles as complicating variables. Fortunately, you are not fighting a culture battle in your home. As you think about marriage roles, you are merely discerning how to honor God’s design and enjoy one another in your family.

Worksheet Five: Job Description — Husband

Worksheet Six: Job Description — Wife

NOTE: These documents are meant to be interactive documents and will make more sense in light of the verbal presentation provide at:

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Video of this presentation will be available at this link shortly after the live event.

Marriage Evaluation: Character & Role Expectations

Falling in love is easier than knowing what to do once you’re there. Marriage is kind of like your final graduation. As long as you’re going to school there is a clearly defined “next” (courses to complete, papers to write, tests to take, applications to fill out, etc…). Once you finish and can do “what you always wanted” it is least clear how to make “it” happen. How do you get from degreed to employed? How do you get from employed to fulfilling work? How do you prevent fulfilling work from leading to burnout and find contentment?

Through the process of dating, engagement, wedding planning, ceremony, and honeymoon there is also a clear “next.” But what do you do when you get home from the honeymoon? How do you get from married to marriage roles? How do you get from defined roles to mutually fulfilling life? How do you avoid allowing roles from becoming stereotypes or relational ruts and find lasting contentment?

In the third of three sections in the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” seminar we will seek to answer two broad questions to set the stage for the rest of the seminars. a) What does the Bible actually teach and what do Christians only culturally assume about gender roles? (b) What are the pre-requisites to the healthy and satisfying implementation of roles within marriage? (c) What kind of process can a couple walk through in order to effectively discover what roles will look like in their unique marriage?

This evaluation (Marriage Evaluation_Character & Role Expectations) is meant to help couples see what they need to focus on in this third section.

Several of the plumb lines from this third section will include:

  • Personal maturity, ability to be a friend, and a functional approach to life are pre-requisites for marital unity.
  • Your marital mission is to make it as easy as possible for your spouse to look like, live for, and show others Jesus.
  • Healthy living and marriage are primarily designed by God and secondarily canvasses for our personal expression.
  • Christian leadership exists for the good of those being led; not the preferences of the leader.
  • There is no such thing as a Christian leader who does not invest himself in knowing those being led.
  • Family leadership is not a personality trait or skill set you’re born with. It is a responsibility given by God.
  • The primary tool of Christian leadership is self-sacrifice and allowing others to follow you towards Christ.
  • Both the husband (head) and wife (submitting) are playing “the Jesus role” in their marriage.
  • A wife expresses as much strength in submitting to her husband as he does gracious wisdom in leading his family.
  • The glory of a wife and the glory of husband are the same – the unique ways they reflect the character of Christ.

A common rebuttal to God’s teaching on gender roles (which is also raised against most every expression of uncomfortable obedience) is, “Won’t I lose what makes me unique? I don’t want to lose myself. Why did God make me with certain desires, passions, and abilities if I wasn’t going to get to express them?” This is a fair question and reveals a common misunderstanding of how obedience to God changes us. C.S. Lewis answers this objection using the metaphor of how salt changes the flavor of food. while is true of our obedience to Christ in every area of life.

“Suppose a person who knew nothing about salt. You give him a pinch to taste and he experiences a particular strong, sharp taste. You then tell him that in your country people use salt in all their cookery. Might he not reply ‘In that case I suppose all your dishes taste exactly the same: because the taste of that stuff you have just given me is so strong that it will kill the taste of everything else.’ But you and I know that the real effect of salt is exactly the opposite. So far from killing the taste of the egg… and the cabbage, it actually brings it out. They do not show their real taste till you have added the salt…It is something like that with Christ and us. The more we get what we now call ‘ourselves’ out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of ‘little Christs,’ all different, will still be too few to express Him fully (p. 225).” C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

C.S. Lewis on Losing/Gaining Myself in God

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“It is only the Christians who have any idea of how human souls can be taken into the life of God and yet remain themselves – in fact, be very much more themselves than they were before (p. 161).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

So here is the question, “When I become a Christian and surrender to Christ as Lord of my life, do I (a) increasingly lose my sense of individuality as I increasingly take on the character of Christ, or (b) increasingly find my true identity as I become the person God always intended me to be?”

Before I seek to answer this question in light of Lewis’ quote, I will acknowledge the bias in option B. By saying “the person God always intended me to be,” I am assuming a creative design in our personality, interests, and destiny.

However, I believe this assumption is fair. Personality and aptitude are observable before we have a “sense of self.” Infants, even within the same family, can have starkly different temperaments. These remain relatively stable apart from traumatic events.

What Lewis is proposing is that only Christianity allows us to answer “yes” to both option A (we become increasingly like the “ideal” which is contrary to our nature) and option B (we become more like the person our personality and interests move us towards.”

Psalm 37:4 captures both of these elements, “Delight your self in the Lord (option A), and he will give you the desires of your heart (option B).”

The question now mutates to, “Is this really possible? Can we really have it both ways? Is this theology that is so detached from personal experience that it rivals a fairy tale?”

Your satisfaction with my answer (which I hope is consistent with Scripture) will be determined by your comfort with the statement that we were made for a purpose (Eph. 2:10). If you believe that every person is a divine craftsmanship made for a distinct role in the Grand Redemptive Narrative of history, then it is no problem to see option A and option B as two sides of the same coin.

One way to understand how Christianity differs from current popular thought is that the Bible teaches that “self-actualization” is a return to God’s world-changing design for your life through repentance and faith in Christ. The culture teaches that “self-actualization is an exploration to find something that can make you eternally happy in a temporal world through self-help and personal insight.

Ultimately, this debate comes down to the question, “Who is the author of your life? Are you the one writing your own story? Did you decide what you would like (or did you discover it)? Did you decide what you would be good at (or did you learn where your aptitudes were by trial and error)?”

When I accept that happiness will be found when I fulfill things I did not choose, then there is no problem accepting that I could become most myself when I lose myself in the will of my Maker. My appetite for things I call “good” and find pleasure in was given to me by Him.

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations (Videos)

The videos below were taken from the live presentation of the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” seminar. For the various counseling options available from this material visit www.summitrdu.com/counseling.

This seminar is part of a series of “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage” seminars that also includes:

If you are interested in the pre-marital mentoring program built around these materials, you can find everything you need at www.bradhambrick.com/gcm.

NOTE: Many people have asked how they can get a copy of the seminar notebook referenced in this verbal presentation. You can request a copy from Summit’s admin over counseling at counseling@summitrdu.com (please note this is an administrative account; no individual or family counsel is provided through e-mail).

Chapter 1
Why Is Marriage Hard?
The Obvious and Not-So-Obvious Things We Rarely Discuss

MarriageEquip(Part1) from Equip on Vimeo.

Unit One Evaluation: GCM_Foundations_Eval1_Expectations

Chapter 2
What Makes Marriage Work?
Finding the Essential Core of a Good Marriage

MarriageEquip(Part2) from Equip on Vimeo.

Worksheet One: Sketching Our Marriage Story

Worksheet One (Completed Sample): Marriage Story_Birth to Wedding_SAMPLE

Worksheet Two: Marriage Story_ Present or Future

Worksheet Three:  Celebrating Our Non-Moral Differences

Chapter 3
Beyond Pageantry and Sentimentality
How the Wedding Ceremony Helps Us Understand Covenant

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations (part 3) from Equip on Vimeo.

Unit Two Evaluation: GCM_Foundations_Eval2_Covenant

Worksheet Four: Jigsaw Marriage Excercise

Chapter 4
The Shared Job Description of Husband and Wife:
Personal Maturity, Healthy Friendships, and Functional Living

Part 4: Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations from Equip on Vimeo.

Unit Three Evaluation: GCM_Foundations_Eval3_Character&Roles

Worksheet Five: Job Description — Husband

Worksheet Six: Job Description — Wife

Chapter 5
The Unique Aspects of a Husband’s Job Description
Understanding Servant-Leader, Protector, and Provider

MarriageEquip(Part5) from Equip on Vimeo.

Chapter 6
The Unique Aspects of a Wife’s Job Description
Highly-Competent, Well-Suited Helper-Lover

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations (part 6) from Equip on Vimeo.

If this post was beneficial for you, then considering reading other blogs from my “Favorite Posts on Marriage” post which address other facets of this subject.

Covenant: We’ll Never Out Perform Our Commitment

This post is an excerpt from the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” seminar section on covenant. It is the concluding exercise designed to remind couples that a covenant-grade commitment to marriage is necessary for the consistent application of even the most practical marriage advice.

There are two times when our selfishness tempts us to treat our marriage as less than a covenant – conflict and laziness. We will address conflict more fully in the seminar on “Communication” and laziness more fully in the seminar on “Decision Making.” But in those seminars we will be addressing the skills needed to manage conflict and avoid laziness. However, no amount of skill will circumvent the need for commitment – that is the role of covenant. We should realize (or admit) we will never out-perform our level of commitment.

The following exercise is designed to give you “eyes to see” the moments when covenant commitment is needed to combat our selfish tendencies in conflict and laziness. On the worksheet below you will find the words spoken during this wedding ceremony [provided in the larger manual from which this excerpt was taken] over the image of a puzzle. If unhealthy conflict or laziness is disrupting your marriage (and you’re not implementing the good skills you already know), then this assignment is for you.

Worksheet for this exercise: Jigsaw Marriage Excercise

  1. Print a picture of you and your spouse on one side of a piece of paper.
  2. On the other side print a copy of your wedding charge, pledge, and vows with the puzzle in background.
  3. Write your first names in the appropriate blanks in the ceremony, and reread your wedding commitments.
  4. Cut the picture into its 25 pieces – it is said doing something 21 times makes it a habit.
  5. Create a frame in which you will put your marriage portrait together.
  6. Begin to look for those moments when your laziness or approach to conflict would harm the marriage.
  7. Each time you navigate one of these moments in a way that honors your covenant, add a piece to the portrait.
  8. Each time you violate your covenant commitment through laziness or poor conflict remove a piece.
  9. Your goal, by God’s grace, is to create a lifestyle of:

(a)     being aware of the moments you are tempted to neglect your marriage covenant, and

(b)     intentionally loving your spouse as your own body (Eph. 5:28) in these moments of temptation.

10. Keep the picture as a trophy of God’s grace in your life and a reminder of your covenant commitment.

 Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Wedding as Covenant Ceremony Sample

This post is an excerpt from the “Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations” seminar section on covenant. It contains 2 of the 15 aspects of the wedding ceremony that are discussed to point out how the wedding ceremony was designed to teach us about covenant.

Seating of the Family

Family and friends of the bride sit on one side of the church. Those of the groom sit on the other. As participants in the wedding enter and leave the wedding ceremony, they pass through the middle of the two families. This creates two covenant images: the power of covenant to unite and the imagery of God’s covenant with Abraham.

First, the bonding power of a covenant is so strong it cannot be confined to two individuals. As the couple passes between their families, they act like the tongue on a zipper uniting two families. As the husband and wife become “one flesh,” both families share something precious enough (i.e., son or daughter, brother or sister) to create a common identity as family.

“In reality, it is two people and two families that are coming together to form a new merger. Your family’s impact on your new family must not be minimized, but rather, understood, and planned for (p. 19).” Dennis Rainey (editor) in Preparing for Marriage

Read Ephesians 2:18-22. Observe the power of covenant to bring unrelated people, even people with great differences, into the same family. See how the gospel moves us from being “outsiders” (i.e., “strangers and aliens”) to being “members of the household” (v. 19). As newly joined husband and wife walk out together between their respective families they are involving all in attendance in what the gospel does.

Second, this seating arrangement gives a portrait of God’s covenant with Abraham in Genesis 15. The Hebrew word for covenant, berith meaning “to cut,” is most clearly seen in this passage. God had Abraham cut several animals in half and make a lane between their carcasses. God passed down this lane as a

way of saying, “Shall it be to me like these animals, if I break this covenant.”

While gruesome, this image reminds us of a central theme of covenant relationships – death brings life. God would keep His covenant with man. Man would break covenant with God. But God would accept the consequences of being broken, Jesus’ death on the cross, in order to restore the covenant.

“Leaving parents and holding fast to a wife, forming a new one-flesh union, is meant from the beginning to display this covenant—Christ’s leaving his Father and taking the church as his bride, at the cost of his life, and holding fast to her in a one-spirit union forever (p. 30).” John Piper in This Momentary Marriage

As husband and wife pass through their families, they are also visualizing a death (leaving) that brings life (cleaving). Those in attendance instinctually understand the profound paradox as they experience the simultaneous emotions of sadness and joy.

Bridal Veil

When the bride enters the sanctuary she is wearing a veil. This is not a coy means of flirting with her groom, an insecure response to how she looks, or a trendy piece of wedding paraphernalia that has yet to go extinct. It is another piece of covenant imagery.

In the old covenant within the temple there was a veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies (Exo. 26:33). This is where God’s glory dwelt and only the High Priest was allowed to enter this place, and he was only allowed to enter once per year. When Christ died on the cross this veil was torn from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51) signifying the unlimited access we have to God through Christ.

During the wedding the groom, representing Christ, is allowed to remove the veil from his bride. Now, by virtue of the marriage covenant, he has gained access to a level of intimacy with his bride he did not have before marriage. In the same way that Christ came to reside in our hearts upon removing the temple veil, the husband and wife come to reside in the same home and discover a whole new level of intimacy after removing the wedding veil.

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

C.S. Lewis on Really Living

A Counselor Reflects on Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

“In reality, the difference between Biological life and Spiritual life is so important that I am going to give them two distinct names. The Biological sort which come to us through Nature, and which (like everything else in Nature) is always tending to run down and decay so that it can only be kept up by incessant subsidies from Nature in the form of air, water, food, etc. is Bios. The Spiritual life which is in God from all eternity, and which made the whole natural universe is Zoe. Bios has, to be sure, a certain shadowy or symbolic resemblance to Zoe: but only the sort of resemblance there is between a photo and a place, or statue and a man. A man who changed from having Bios to having Zoe would have gone through as big a change as a statue which changed from being a carved stone to being a real man. And that is precisely what Christianity is about. This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there is a rumor going around that some of us are some day going to come to life (p. 159).” Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis

Don’t get lost in the Greek words for life (bios and zoe). The point is not a technical one requiring precise jargon. Lewis was just giving us two different words to prepare us for a beautiful image of the gospel.

Lewis wants us to see that while we are alive we are not as alive as we desire to be or as God intends us to be. We live as consumers. We must devour something in order to maintain our current lives (bios). For this reason we find it very hard to give, although most everyone we admire tells us that real life (zoe) is found in enjoyment of blessing others.

In all our relationships we strive for a reality where we do not live off of one another, but our best and most sincere e

fforts at this still fall short. We long for pure zoe, but all our earthly instincts are stuck in bios.

Sometimes we surrender and we try to create patterns of mutually-sustaining bios-relationships. We try to create patterns where I agree to meet your needs and you agree to meet mine. But in order to do this we must pretend that we weren’t burning part of the fuel at each exchange to preserve ourselves.

We can’t help but talk about a world where life (bios) worked like it should (zoe). These discussions may be internal day dreams, political discussions, marriage conferences, or two people merely “solving the world’s problems” together. But for someone reason, despite generations of evidence to the contrary, these “rumors” won’t die.

We continue to believe that zoe is possible. Every psychological theory, political system, and religion in the world provides an explanation for why we’re stuck in bios and what it will take to establish a world of zoe. The Christian “rumor” is not the only rumor.

The Christian rumor says that at the Fall we all died (moved from eternal zoe to degenerating bios). We became a lesser version of what the Creator intended us to be. But that there is still enough hint at what we were meant to be that we cannot help longing for it, thinking about it, and trying to recreate it.

The Christian rumor says that if real life (zoe) is to return it will have to come from the One who created it to begin with. We will not self-help from zoe to bios. Further the Christian faith says that the Creator is just the kind of God who would be this merciful. However, in order for bios to become zoe, then zoe must become bios and transform it from within.

This is why Lewis used His second metaphor. The Christian rumor is that the Great Sculptor became a statue in order to restore His creation from being a lifeless (or, at least, life-consuming) image of His glory to a life-giving image of His glory.

Responding to Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin (Video 9 of 9)

This is the ninth video in a nine part series entitled “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin.” True Betrayal has a complementing seminar entitled “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery.” For more information on either seminar, please follow the links provided.

True Betrayal: Step 9 from Equip on Vimeo.

The follow quotes are part of the teaching notes being referenced.

STEP 9.

STEWARD all of my life for God’s glory.

To “steward” something means to use it for God’s intended purpose. It is important to remember that what is being stewarded is the life of the group member in general, not the sin specifically.

Being a living testimony to the transforming power of God’s grace can feel exposing. We must be willing, when appropriate, to share what God has done on our behalf. For many who experience suffering, this will be difficult; not because they are unappreciative, but because sharing God’s grace also means sharing their suffering.

Vulnerability is the willingness to take the risk of allowing any event, belief, preference, interest, or emotion of your life to be “on the table” when it is useful to glorify God by encouraging a fellow believer, allowing a fellow believer to encourage you, or evangelizing an unbeliever. It is this disposition that breathes the life of authenticity into relationships and allows them to be mutually enjoyable, enriching, and character shaping.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside of Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell (p. 169).” C.S. Lewis in The Four Loves

Learning to Tell Your Life/Marriage Story

Stories are made up events, but a story is larger than the events which comprise it. This will be a guiding principle as you learn to tell your marriage story. You will begin by listing formative events in your life, courtship, and marriage. But telling your life-marriage story is about more than building a chronologically-arranged list of events.

Worksheet One: Sketching Our Marriage Story

Worksheet One (Completed Sample): Marriage Story_Birth to Wedding_SAMPLE

Worksheet Two: Marriage Story_ Present or Future

Events: Begin each worksheet by writing in the key life events which shaped you in the order in which they happened. Questions to prompt you in this part of the exercise are included in each section below. For “Birth to Wedding” general time markers are given to help you outline these events. In the other two, it would be wise to begin by charting the time periods that will divide that segment of your life-marriage story.

Experience: After you list the key events, it is helpful to assess how you experienced those events. A simple “-5” to “+5” scale has been provided. These represent pleasant (peaceful, joyful, excited, etc…) and unpleasant (i.e., angry, anxious, grieving, etc…) responses to each item. From this you should begin to be able to see what the major seasons of your life-marriage have been like: good seasons (+3 to +5), bad seasons (-3 to -5), mixed seasons, and “blah” seasons (-2 to +2).

In this part of the chart place an “x” where that event ranks on the unpleasant-to-pleasant spectrum. Once you have completed the list and rated the experience of each event, connect the dots to give yourself a visual of how that section of your life story has unfolded.

You should begin to notice whether the major shifts (good or bad) in your life have been the result of your choices or situational changes outside your control. You can probably begin to notice where your instincts towards trust or mistrust gained their current force.

Meaning: There is a “comment” box beside each event for you to summarize how you understood the significance of that event upon you. Comments can be serious or playful, but they should accurately represent the way that event actually impacted you at that time.

What were the common themes you used to interpret the pleasant parts of your life? What were the common themes you used to interpret the unpleasant parts of your life? These are probably the same themes that you use to interpret the pleasant and unpleasant events in your marriage today. Until we see that we are interpreters of life, we are slaves to the interpretations that come to us naturally.

You should begin to notice how you responded to things “in the moment” compared with the significance you give them now. Too often we attribute this difference only to the passing of time, but most often it is not time that changes our perspective but a change in perspective (which is just a more common phrase for looking at the same facts from the vantage point of a different “story”).

Birth to Wedding

An exciting, and sometimes unsettling, part of marriage is that two individual stories are becoming one shared story. From the wedding forward you have two individual histories with a shared present and future. The first chart gives clarity about what has been joined together by your marriage covenant and what is being weaved into one by your married life.

What should you include in your life-marriage story?

  • Key events – vacations, accomplishments, tragedies, moves, family changes, secrets
  • Key people – family members, teachers, church leaders, coaches, friends
  • Major interests – hobbies, sports, organizations
  • Significant decisions – good and bad
  • Spiritual markers – good and bad
  • Accomplishments – goals/dreams set, disappointments, points of progress, and completion
  • Jobs – skills developed, key connections established, life-direction determined
  • Maturation markers – personal, emotional, relational
  • Courtship – meeting your spouse, falling in love, obstacles to relationship, learning each other

Wedding to Present

Agreeing on how to divide the major sections of your married life is the first part of telling your wedding-to-present story. How do the “chapters” of your marriage divide? The first year, children, moves, and jobs are common dividers. But you may think of others.

After you think of the key chapters or headings for your married life, begin listing the key events, people, decisions, spiritual markers, and accomplishments for each chapter like you did for your birth-to-wedding story. Mark the ups and downs of each experience and trace the line that is created.

Remember, the point of these exercises is to build unity (emotional and narrative) in your marriage. So talk about the things you write. Reflect on how you see events differently now from when they occurred and consider what that says about what God has done in your life and marriage.

Too often we think of our Christian testimony in exclusively individualistic terms. But if marriage makes us “one flesh” then we should be able to give a marital testimony. This exercise will help you and your spouse feel together in ministry even when you are not doing ministry together. When you have verbalized how your stories have joined, then you can see how you are ever-present in each other’s ministry.

Gospel as the “Grand Narrative”

Most people are unable to talk about the gospel as the theme of their life because they have never thought through their life as a story. Hopefully your work in the previous sections has removed this obstacle for

you and your spouse. This section moves the three story exercises from merely reflective-relational exercises to tracing the hand of God through your life, marriage, fears, and dreams.

“Many of us didn’t marry because we had a grand vision of becoming more like Jesus. But for now, if you don’t find this motivating at least accept that this is what God’s Word clearly teaches (p. 70)… Jesus isn’t a consolation prize for the unhappily married. He’s the grand prize for the married and unmarried alike (p. 71).” Winston Smith in Marriage Matters

The gospel doesn’t rewrite your story; it reinterprets your story. The facts of your life will not change, but the significance of those facts has (or, at least, can) change significantly. For this reason it is suggested that you use color, more than words, to identify where the core themes of the gospel appear in your life-marriage story. The “x’s” and line will not move, but they will become three dimensional and multi-colored.

The chart below contains the major themes of the gospel and a color-coding system. Use these colors to trace the line that runs through your charts. In some areas the colors may stack like a rainbow as you see multiple themes surrounding the same event.

Theme

Description

Color

God’s Faithfulness

The gospel begins with God’s faithfulness. Before, during, and after our sin and its affects God is faithful. That is our hope. As the King of Kings (purple for royalty), we can count on God to be faithful. Where do you see God’s faithfulness in your story?

Purple

Sin & Suffering

The gospel is needed because of the marring affects of sin and suffering upon our lives. We are born corrupted by sin. We live in a broken world with people who will hurt us. Our lives are marred (black like spilled ink on a work of art) by these realities. Where do you see sin and suffering in your story?

Black

Undeserved Love

We could not fix ourselves or make up for the wrongs we had done. We deserved punishment and rejection, but Christ lived the perfect life necessary to merit heaven and died the death we deserved (red represents his blood) in order to demonstrate the depth of God great love for us. Where do see God’s love and grace in your story?

Red

Faith / Hope

A story filled with sin and suffering should be a dark story. Whenever we experience faith and hope (yellow like the breaking of the morning sun) it is intended to be a reminder that our story has been invaded by Someone greater than our sin and suffering. Where do you see the themes of faith and hope in your story?

Yellow

Joy

Laughter is the privilege of those who feel safe. Soldiers in battle don’t make jokes. Pleasure and joy are common-grace tastes of what God intends for His people and meant to remind us of the home, Heaven, God provides for those who accept His gift of grace (orange for warm and inviting). Where do you see the theme of joy in your story?

Orange

Generosity

Without the gospel we live in a context of limited time, love, and resources. Before we experience the gospel, life is about getting as much of “it” (whatever you value most) as you can. Once we are filled with God’s love we are freed to be generous (green represents money, which is commonly associated with generosity). Where do you see the theme of generosity (in yourself and others) in your story?

Green

Community

We are saved by grace through faith intoa community called the church. This is how we realize that our life is about more than ourselves (blue to indicate the breadth of God’s body, like the sky). Where do you see the theme of Christian community in your story?

Blue

Perseverance

By the gospel God forgives our sin (justification) and shapes our character (sanctification). Character shaping is the process by which God makes us like Jesus (brown for steady, solid growth like a tree). Where do you see the theme of perseverance in your story?

Brown

Surprise

Because of the truths of the gospel we are able to trust God with the unexpected and God rarely works as we expect Him (asterisk to represent something out of the ordinary). Where do you see God’s unexpected hand guiding your story?

Asterisk

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Sample Worksheet Completed: Marriage Story_Birth to Wedding_SAMPLE

Now that you have completed tracing the gospel themes through your story, examine what you wrote as the significance or meaning of each event in the “comments” column. What did you learn, re-learn, or unlearn about God, the gospel, and your story?

Creating a Gospel-Centered Marriage: Foundations
Dates: June 23 and 30, 2012
Time: 4:00 to 6:00 pm
Location: The Summit Church, Brier Creek South Venue
Address: 2415 Presidential Drive; Durham, NC 27703
Cost: Free

Overcoming Sexual Sin (Video 7 of 9)

This is the seventh video in a nine part series entitled “False Love: Overcoming Sexual Sin from Pornography to Adultery.” False Love has a complementing seminar entitled “True Betrayal: Overcoming the Betrayal of Your Spouse’s Sexual Sin.” For more information on either seminar, please follow the links provided.

False Love: Step 7 from Equip on Vimeo.

The follow quotes are part of the teaching notes being referenced.

STEP 7
IMPLEMENT the new structure pervasively with humility and flexibility.

“Chaos occurs when we become willing to change and make real efforts to do so. Since this is new ground, we don’t know how to act or what to do. The old behaviors are gone, but we haven’t learned new ones yet. Chaos is confusing, frightening, and painful (p. 133).” Mark Laaser in Healing the Wounds of Sexual Addiction

“Going in the right direction in your struggle with sexual addiction means learning to fight your temptation to sin, learning to handle your guilt when you fail, and learning to understand and deal with the circumstances in which you are tempted (p. 8).” David Powlison in Sexual Addiction

“As most adults have learned the hard way, reality is rarely as wonderful as fantasy. Many people create expectations for sex that reality cannot meet. I dare say that rarely has a teenage boy created a fantasy in which his partner rebuffs his advances because she is too tired (p. 40).” Tim Challies in Sexual Detox

“When things get tough at home, and they most certainly will, Satan will be right there to tempt you to run back to the partner. Rejection of these desires is imperative and will be a vital part of your recovery. Denial that these desires exist will only increase your vulnerability and risk. Be honest with yourself and with God. Recognize that the source of these desires is based on a lie. And the relationship you’d be running to is based in fantasy. Focus on the commitment you’ve made that is based on truth (p. 51).” Gary & Mona Shriver in Unfaithful

“Paint yourself into a corner by telling others of your plans for change (p. 340).” Doug Rosenau in A Celebration of Sex

“Porn is a sin of imagination. We need to counter it by enlarging our imaginations. The answer to porn is to believe the truth. But that’s so much more than an intellectual process. We need to let the truth capture our imaginations: to meditate, ponder, wonder at, and sing the truth. We need to feel the truth, glory in the truth, delight in the truth (p. 64).” Tim Chester in Closing the Window

Life Restructuring Assessment Tool from Step 7: Sexual Sin Plan Eval Form