The Best Marriage Advice I’ve Ever Been Given

Sometimes life stinks. Marriage can be hard. People sin. Wounds hurt. There is no magic cure-all that will instantly make it all better, but this is one place to start.

To learn more about Clear Creek Community Church, visit clearcreek.org

Follow us on social media:

Clear Creek Community Church

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/clearcreek.org​
Instagram –
https://www.instagram.com/clearcreekc​
Twitter –
https://www.twitter.com/_cccc/

Clear Creek Resources
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/clearcreekresources
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clearcreekresources

 

112: Date Your Wife or Hate Your Life

Life is busy. We invest in our jobs, kids, and future, but sometimes marriage ends up on the back burner. How can we invest in the one God has given us and why does it matter? On this episode Rachel Chester sits down with Bruce and Susan Wesley as they share how they seek to know and love each other and how a strong marriage shapes the rest of life.

 

 

097: Ted Lasso on Cynicism, Marriage, and Leadership

When confronted with rudeness, anger, or disrespect, coach Ted Lasso responds with a friendly smile and encouraging remark without a hint of sarcasm or malice. There’s something winsome about this character, and yet there’s real pain in his heart. On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen, Rachel Chester, Lance Lawson and Brad Loser discuss how Ted Lasso offers a refreshing contrast to the cynicism of our day, how marriage is worth fighting for, and how to lead others by genuinely caring for them.

**Please note that Ted Lasso is rated TV-MA and contains adult language, so use wisdom to determine if it is appropriate for you or your family. For discernment tips listen to episode 092: Watching Movies with a Christian Worldview.

Open Heart Surgery

The symptoms might be straight forward, subtle, or even hidden; there is a gradual decline or a sudden onset of excruciating pain. Either way, the pathways narrow, the heart becomes hardened, and the pain brings you to your knees.

Regardless of how it happens, when divorce hits, the heart aches. It is both physical and emotional, and it is imperative to find help.

The harm of divorce or separation is far-reaching and takes more than a six-hour surgery or a 13-week rehab program to repair. It is truly one of the most painful experiences in life, undermining our capacity — emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, and relationally — for months or even years.

Divorce places us under a microscope, magnifying our strengths and weaknesses. Through it we see how our personal history and the desires of our heart are critical risk factors. This can be overwhelming and leave us stuck in bondage to the past or paralyzed by fear of the future.

We must remember the wisdom of Proverbs 4:23:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

There is hope even when our hearts are broken.

I found hope in recognizing the need for help and risking vulnerability. Allowing ourselves to be vulnerable can open our eyes to our own weaknesses and instill a longing for safety in something greater than ourselves.

I found hope in understanding the recovery process and listening to divorce care experts. Many of them are counselors, speakers, authors and licensed therapists who know firsthand the devastation of divorce having experienced it themselves and are now trained to equip and empower those who are hurting.

I found hope in a community with others who are suffering from the same kind of pain, even in different circumstances. Hebrews 10:24-25 reminds us of the importance of fellowship so that we can encourage one another through good times and hard times. Community moves us from a self-centered space to an interdependent space, and that is God’s design.

And I found hope in serving others in the midst of my misery. By reaching out to others in small, caring ways, meaningful connections were created. Serving someone else shifted my focus.

But ultimately, true hope is found in Jesus Christ.

When I was in the midst of my own divorce, I wish I had known where to look. In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” But instead, I was searching for financial independence, purpose, and identity in my career.

Then, to manage the emotional fallout of divorce, I did what was comfortable for me, keeping everything personal and private. My community was wrapped tightly around peers in the workforce, and any downtime was spent with my two babies or reading the latest self-help books. My symptoms were apparent, but I tucked them away as I filled my days with busyness to shield myself from pain and disappointment.

I forged ahead alone, and, unbeknownst to me, I was exhausted.

One year later, a friend gifted me a book — a Life Application Study Bible — and for the first time, I began to dig deep for answers. It turns out that the Bible didn’t tell me to persevere and help myself; instead, it pointed to someone other than me: Jesus.

In my brokenness, I felt guilt, shame, and bitterness, but through God’s Word, I discovered grace, truth and love. I began to truly understand what Jesus did for me that no one else would, or could, do.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

— Romans 5:8

Recovery wasn’t immediate, but over the years, my broken heart was slowly healed and filled with gratitude. My community grew to include people who genuinely loved God and desired to serve others. At last, my confidence was rooted in the character of God and the truth that is in Jesus

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

— Ephesians 4:22-24.

Even still, recovery is long and hard. The pathways are narrow and there are unexpected barriers and immeasurable risks. Recovery, and even non-recovery life, requires community, communication, and accountability. Others who have been through divorce will attest that the road of recovery includes progress, but also plateaus and setbacks, much like healing after open heart surgery. But everything suddenly changes when we invite Jesus — the Great Physician — into the operating room.

Jehovah Rapha translates to “The Lord who heals.” Except this healer heals us from the inside out.

Jesus inspects every aspect of our life and then removes all barriers between us and him. He comforts, restores, and grafts new pathways that are full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22). Jesus understands that recovery is gradual and slow. In fact, he allows us to benefit from his work over a lifetime, discovering that there can be beauty in the pain and process of it all.

And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you.  And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

— Ezekiel 36:26

Lord, please draw near to those who are struggling with separation or divorce. Let them know they are not alone. Give them the confidence to ask for help and lead them to a community of people who point to you.

 

 

090: Divorce – Hurt, Hope, and Healing

Divorce is a reality for so many, it but can also feel lonely and isolating, whether one is in the midst of divorce or has divorced in the past. What are the hard questions in the wake of divorce? How can you find a community who understands? How can anyone go through something this painful and find hope and new life? Rachel sits down with Brad and Amy Thompson, leaders of Divorce Care at Clear Creek Community Church, to discuss the hurt of divorce and how they found hope and healing.

Resources: 

Divorce Care September – December 2021

Professional Counselors at Clear Creek Community Church

 

088: The Porn Problem

There’s a pandemic sweeping across America, but it was around long before COVID-19. It’s the pornography pandemic. In fact, recent quarantine-influenced numbers show that porn website traffic is at an all-time high. So, how can we fight for purity in this sex-crazed world? How can we raise kids in it? And how can we honor God’s standard of marriage? On this episode, Jon Coffey sits down with Clear Creek’s Director of Marriage and Family Ministries, Lance Lawson, and Clear Lake Student Director, Kyle Mikulan, to talk about how the gospel impacts our response to, and navigation through, this issue.

 

Resources: 

Finally Free by Heath Lambert

Covenant Eyes

 

079: Unity in Marriage

Everyone is different, so when two different people come together in marriage, there are inevitably joys and struggles. How can we embrace and grow from the differences inherent in this sacred union? On this episode, Ryan Lehtinen is joined by his wife, Lindsey, along with Greg and Kay Poore to talk about what God has taught them through their respective 15 and 40 years of marriage.

Resources: 

What Did You Expect? by Paul David Tripp

The Meaning of Marriage by Tim Keller

Clear Creek Counseling

Clear Creek Pre-marital Counseling Information

A Love That Lasts

For those of us who are married, we each pledged our love for our spouses at our wedding — a love that would never waver, endure sickness and poverty, and abide until death parted us.

But oh, how our human love has failed. So many marriages collapse under the strain that life brings, and even those who remain married struggle to love well through those challenges.

Striving to preserve, protect, and prosper our marriages is a worthy endeavor, but this effort can feel impossible to sustain, and thinking back on the promises we once pledged can often fill us more with guilt than joy.

Let’s think back to another day instead. Not a day in which your love was celebrated, but rather a day when your eyes were opened to a love that was extended to you.

Though our experiences are all unique, every believer in Jesus can remember a time in which you recognized God’s love as valuable, beautiful, endearing, and personal. Your heart and life were changed by love that you didn’t deserve; love you could never hope to return in kind.

And this love has endured. Amid all our struggles, failures, and sin, we still experience the love of God, turning us back to him with mercy and compassion.

When the Old Testament writers spoke of God’s love for his people, they most frequently used the word hesed — sometimes translated as steadfast love or lovingkindness. In Psalm 136, the word is present in every verse.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

Give thanks to the God of gods,

for his steadfast love endures forever.

– Psalm 136:1-2

God’s love can be counted on. He is faithful to us even when we are unfaithful to him. His love for us originated before creation and will last throughout eternity. He has adopted us into his family and will never let us go. He is sovereign over all the universe, and we can trust that nothing will ever overwhelm his love for us.

In the New Testament, the Greek word agape is most commonly used, particularly emphasizing the unconditional sacrifice of our Savior.

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

– Ephesians 5:2

The love of God is expressed over and over as a love that gives. The Father gave his Son for us, the Son gave himself up on the cross for us, the Spirit is given to us. The depths of God’s sacrificial gifts are impossible to fathom and made all the more inexplicably lovely by the depths of our depravity. We deserve none of his love, and yet he never fails to grace us with his gifts. His unconditional sacrifice on our behalf was costly, and the price was paid with joyous love.

In our own strength, we are incapable of loving our spouses with such a faithful, enduring, unconditional, sacrificial love. But God doesn’t stop with simply loving us. He extends that unending, undeserved love into and through us, transforming our hearts first toward him and then to those around us.

When we come to grips with our inability to earn God’s love, how can we continue to hold our spouses’ sins against them? When we understand the lovingkindness given to us, how can we not extend it to others? When we experience God’s patience with our fears and failures, how can we fail to forgive? When we have been given God’s very Son, how can we insist on our own preferences?

Through uncertainty and upheaval, in seasons of suffering or stress, attempting to root our efforts to love our spouse in our own strength will always fail us. Instead, let’s remind ourselves of the gospel love of God.

When we examine how he has loved us despite our weakness, we just might find a taste of his great love to extend to our spouse.

May we reflect his faithful, enduring, unconditional, sacrificial love each day as we work and live and grow side by side, day by day, grace by grace.

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

– 1 John 4:10-11


 

I Thought I Needed a Soulmate

I grew up watching Disney fairytales, Hallmark movies, and romantic comedies. I just knew that one day I would meet my Prince Charming, my Jerry Maguire, or my Westley (any Princess Bride fans?). We would fall madly in love and live happily ever after. We would grow old together, and one day be reunited at the gates of heaven where we would spend eternity together. He would complete me.

I met my husband, Lance, at a young age in church. He was perfect! He was romantic, he loved Jesus, and he made me happy. All of my dreams had come true. We would have eternal bliss! And then, years of marriage went by. Not surprisingly, they were harder than I ever could have imagined. There were moments of intense loneliness, sadness, and heartache. I wasn’t happy. He wasn’t happy. And at the worst times, I wanted it to end.

But, God is so good. He opened my eyes to the lies that were at the foundation of my marriage. I had allowed cultural views of marriage and love, these fairytales, to seep into what I thought a Christian marriage should look like. I had entered marriage with the idea that my spouse should make me happy and solve all my problems. My fulfillment, my dreams, all came from my spouse. He was my rescuer. He was the one I believed could fix it all.

But, that isn’t what the Bible says at all!

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation.

He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.

– Psalm 62: 1-2

God alone is what my soul was longing for. He is my fulfillment, my purpose, my identity. He alone is my Savior, and it is from him alone that I can find true joy and peace. God showed me that I had elevated my spouse to the level of savior, an idol. I was looking horizontally for something that only a vertical relationship could fulfill. The truth became clear: only God could complete me, not my spouse.

So then, what is the meaning of marriage? If my spouse isn’t meant to fulfill me, what is the point?

There’s an answer for that question in the Bible as well!

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. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies.

– Ephesians 5:22-28

Marriage should model the relationship between Christ and the church. It’s designed to be this beautiful picture of two people working together to share the love of Christ. We were never meant to fulfill each other, but rather point each other back to the only one who can fulfill us: Jesus.

This drastically changed the way I approached my marriage. I stopped viewing Lance as my soulmate, but rather a teammate. We now hold each other accountable. We attempt to love each other selflessly. We say tough things to each other, but we say them in love, not with selfish motivation or contempt. We do not expect our spouse to fulfill us, but rather to run the race with us. We engage in conflict differently because we realize that our goal is ultimately the same. We are not vying for our own individual happiness, because happiness is not our goal. Eternity with a soulmate is not our goal.

Both of us at the feet of Jesus is our goal.

Everything we do in our marriage should point each other back to Jesus.

Now we love each other in a way that is so vastly superior and richer than we set out to do in the beginning. When Jesus became the focus of our marriage, this beautiful thing happened: we began to see Jesus in each other, and we got a glimpse of how Jesus sees us. It’s a sacrificial love that is full of grace. Twenty years ago my hope was to one day be reunited with my spouse in heaven so that we could continue our great love story. But now, someday when I die, I cannot wait to meet Jesus in heaven and to continue that great love story. I cannot wait to worship at his feet.

Do not get me wrong, I expect that I will enjoy seeing Lance there, too. But, that’s no longer the point. More than anything else, we desire to be in the presence of Jesus, and we want others to be in the presence of Jesus as well, because we know that is the only place where we are truly complete.


 

One Thing You Can Do Every Day to Improve Your Marriage

I wish I could take credit for what I’m about to tell you. It is the best marriage advice I know to give. It is simple and profound and, if you do it, will improve your marriage in ways nothing else can. This advice is so elementary that you’ll be tempted to dismiss this article altogether. Here it is…

Pray for your spouse every day.

I am embarrassed to admit that I was married for ten years before I stumbled into this advice. For as long as I’ve been part of the church and following Jesus, it seems I should have known to do this. Actually, I knew I should pray for Donya every day, but up to that point I hadn’t made it a priority. Then, in 2013 I saw an article called “Ten Ways to Pray for Your Wife” that prompted me to take daily prayer for her seriously. It’s the best thing I’ve done for our marriage, and I’ve shared this with every married guy I’ve been in small group with for the past seven years.

Here are three reasons why.

 

When you pray for your spouse every day, you’re spending time with God every day.

There is nothing better for your life than to be with the Father. A thousand things compete for our attention every day, exerting their influence on our hearts and minds, shaping us as husbands and wives. Time with the Father shapes us into the image of the Son, preparing us for our greatest responsibility as husbands and wives, reflecting Jesus to our spouse (Ephesians 5:22-33).

Praying for your spouse every day can be part of an intentional rhythm of being with God through Scripture reading and contemplation. Your spouse needs you to be with God, to hear his voice and be shaped by it.

 

When you pray for your spouse every day, you will begin to see them as God does.

Marriage has its ebbs and flows. Spouses see the best and worst of each other. When you primarily view your husband or wife through your daily experiences with them, it can be easy to let frustration or contempt set in.

As weird as it sounds, in a Christian marriage, your spouse is also your brother or sister. Like your other brothers and sisters in Christ, they need your grace. If you find it easier to give grace to others than to your spouse, praying for them can help.

Something will happen in your heart when you pray for the person you’re married to. You’ll be reminded of their humanity. You’ll be reminded of their need for God. You’ll be reminded that experiencing God’s grace is the best thing for them.

Asking God to lavish his grace on your spouse will motivate you to join in with him. You’ll grow as an agent of grace, learning to look for opportunities to shape your husband or wife through grace.

 

When you pray for your spouse every day, God will work in your marriage.

Some TV preachers advertise God like a Sham-Wow infomercial. They promise that for an amazingly small price, God will make all your dreams come true and life will have never been better.

I’m not trying to sell you that deal. Sometimes life stinks. Marriage is hard. People sin. Wounds hurt. I’m not promising that if you pray for your spouse every day things will be instantly better and always improving. That’s not what the Bible teaches about life, prayer, or God.

Jesus did teach, however, that we should ask God for good things, and that God will give us good things!

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”

Matthew 7:7-11

There is mystery here, for sure. Prayer is not a token to a cosmic vending machine. Prayer is a conversation with our Father. He uses it to shape us and to work in our lives.

 

Your spouse is worth praying for.

Every day.

When will you start?