love your enemies

The Marriage Triangle: The One-Flesh Triangle

In Part 1, I explained how our marriage experienced trouble when we tried to fit into the template called, ‘the marriage triangle’.  That instead of simplifying marriage concepts, it had made it more confusing.

What we discovered was that the triangle paradigm is more realistically suited to all other relationships within the body of Christ, except the marriage.  So it’s better named, A Family Triangle:

Within every one of our relationships with other Christians, there are three separate interchanges going on:  1-Darrell has his own relationship with God.  2-I have my own relationship with God.  3-And then there’s Darrell and I, as brother and sister in Christ.

It’s relationship #3 that defines this as a Family Triangle instead of a Marriage Triangle, it could be with Darrell or any other brother or sister in Christ whether they are friends, neighbours, co-workers, cousins, etc.

When the triangle supports all other relationships, it can’t also express the one-flesh in marriage.  The one relationship that’s not interchangeable with any other:  The Covenant

The marriage covenant anchors

The Bible leaves no doubt that the Trinity is three in one,  Father, Son, and Spirit.  Within the Trinity, there’s a rich symbolism for marriage – a supernatural blending of multiples into a single:  God is three in One – marriage is two becoming one.

In marriage, people are not separated into 3 different relationships like in a Family Triangle – they’re joined.  God invites us to covenant with Him because He knows we’ll need His help to make it work.  We cannot become a thriving one-flesh relationship without His help because it’s a supernatural relationship.

The covenant holds us together as God begins the process of infusing two earthly people into a single unit:  One-Flesh, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)

If you’ve anchored your marriage to God by His covenant, it begins and ends with Him.  He created it in the beginning, it’s His idea, it belongs to Him.  He doesn’t join your marriage … you join His marriage.

I think we forget how real that covenant is because we can’t see it.  Unlike the visible rituals of buying the government license at city hall and signing the certificate of marriage at the church, the covenant we make with God – even though unseen – is the real deal. As such, it has far more gravity.

I agreed to covenant with God in marriage through my role as a wife.  I made an agreement with Darrell too, but it’s a contract with another human, a natural being.  God’s covenant is super-natural and supersedes an earthly marriage contract.

At a glance, The One-Flesh Triangle makes the invisible visible and, if we’ve let God anchor us, we’re reminded of that gravity.  At that instant, when we need it the most – in the heat of conflict, frustration, hurt, anger (and sometimes even hate) … it can reset our hearts and minds back to what matters most:  not me, not Darrell – But God. His covenant matters most.

There are ups and downs in every marriage; some have more ups than downs and some go down further than others, but we all need a strategy to remind us of the purposes of marriage.  In the good times in marriage, no one needs a prompt.  But in the hard times, when our wedding day feels like a lifetime in the past … when marriage gets painful and it reaches that breaking point – when we start to think, “This is too hard,” the questions we needed to ask are, will I lean on my own strength or wait for God’s?  Am I going to put the human contract above my covenant with Him?  What’s more important?

SOUL-utions

  • Understand that your marriage is a completely different breed of relationship than all others found on earth; it can’t be treated the same.
  • Accept that your marriage is under tremendous strain from Satan. His main goal, since the day you got married, is to unravel your marriage by coming between the two of you so you’re separated.  He’s the ultimate predator and wants you alone – out of your one-flesh strength.
  • Believe in the realness of your covenant with God.  Trust Him with His own idea of marriage; trust Him with the role He assigned you as a wife.  Let this visual be a trigger to jolt you out of any emotions of hurt, back to the facts.

 

 

More Than a Conqueror

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 Life’s too short to not give your marriage everything you’ve got. 

What is the nature of your life? You are [really] but a wisp of vapour (a puff of smoke, a mist) that is visible for a little while and then disappears [into thin air]. ~James 4:14

And then, when you’ve got no more left to give – GIVE MORE by pressing into God.  In this way, you’re strong through your weakness.

But He said to me, My grace (My favour and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. ~2 Cor 12:9

And now you’ve just become more than a conqueror through Christ.

Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him Who loved us. ~Rom 8:37

YAY!

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Million Dollar Wife

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THE MINIMUM WAGE MENTALITY

This mentality agrees to become part of a marriage, and brings expectations of the wedding into the marriage – but soon finds out it’s not so much fun all the time.  In fact, this marriage isn’t like a wedding – at all.  It’s starting to require too much hard work:  short-sighted

She increasingly thinks someone (usually her husband) owes her happiness.  Being unable to see what she already has because of what she wants, she becomes unable to celebrate her own unique role as a wife because the grass is always greener … somewhere else:  fleshly-focused

Her focus on self is blocking the bigger picture so she can’t see the marriage from 40000ft – God’s view.  What He’s doing in both of them through the marriage.  All that comes into view is what her husband is presently like — not what he could be like:  near-sighted

At the heart of a minimum wage mentality, there’s conditional love.

It’s a kind of love that keeps score with checks and balances.  It leans heavily on the Law – how it should be – and because of the double-standard that often accompanies legalism, it’s blind to a vision of success for the future.  When I had a minimum wage mentality, nothing changed in our marriage – especially not me.  Familiar to me were phrases like.  What about my husband’s part?  Why do I have to go first?  How is that fair to me?

You can tell you might be stepping down into this mentality when you repeatedly hear:  Me – My – I

THE MILLION DOLLAR MENTALITY

This mentality is aware that every marriage has two broken sinners, so there’s going to be good days and bad days.  And sometimes even seasons that are gnarly and emotionally painful.  She accepts the truth about trials in marriage and believes that God can bring healing and wholeness out of any circumstance – she takes God at His Word:  faith

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ~Rom 8:28

She understands that part of being a successful wife is fearlessness.  She’s able to bring her best to that role knowing God always comes through – she’s confident in God’s timing:  hope

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. ~Col 3:23

She sees strength and merit in Christ’s example for marriage.  How Jesus chose to please God rather than himself.  Even when the disciples, in their confusion of not really understanding, tried to get him to go against His promise, He didn’t falter because of His love for God.  She knows the source of this power is not her own, it belongs to God:  love

We love each other because he loved us first. ~1 John 4:19

At the heart of the million dollar mentality, there’s unconditional love.

She leaves the scorekeeping of offences to God by leaning heavily on Grace.  Her primary focus is eternal by letting the temporal events fall to the peripheral – and this changes everything.  The higher grade of seed you plant in the soil of the marriage, the higher grade of harvest God reaps into the life of His daughter – you.

[Remember] this: he who sows sparingly and grudgingly will also reap sparingly and grudgingly, and he who sows generously [that blessings may come to someone] will also reap generously and with blessings. ~2 Cor 9:6

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SOUL-ution:

It’s definitely a process to cultivate the million dollar wife. Perhaps you’ve already seen some miserly minimum wage seeds that you’ve planted and have taken steps to move into the million dollar mindset – fantastic, keep up the good work!

He who finds a [true] MILLION DOLLAR wife finds a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.

~Prov 18:22

But it gets rough. We know it does. When we find we’ve stepped down from that high calling: the call to be a million dollar wife, the role we agreed to on our wedding day…we’ve got to get back.  If you’ve slipped away from being that good thing that God speaks about – your man needs you back.  Remember,

YOU  ARE

A

GOOD THING

 

 

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Grace Changes the Storyline

 

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We cheapen grace when it’s only received, but the value of grace is exponentially maximized when we give it away.  Grace will always change the storyline because it changes everything it touches, especially in marriage.  The closer the relationship the deeper the risk for pain, but this is how we bring the greatest results, for everyone.

Joseph changed his storyline the day he forgave his brothers (Genesis 37-50) when it was within his power to retaliate.  David changed his storyline by showing respect and kindness to an enemy that was trying to destroy him (2 Samuel 9), instead of going to war.

Jesus didn’t change our storylines so that we could take His grace and only receive it for ourselves, but rather so that we could share it with each other.  He gave us a real life demonstration at the cross of how this grace changes outcomes:  He showed us how to capitalize on it.

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THE POWER TO CHOOSE

Unity is the common thread that is weaved over every story where grace touches.  Grace bridges us from separation because of offence to unity and in the process makes us spiritual heroes in God’s eyes.

God gave me the power to change my own storyline from retaliation to forgiveness through the power that was bestowed on me when I received Grace.  Grace has a power that the world just doesn’t get.  It isn’t until you exercise it through giving it away that you can increase its strength and feel its empowerment.

I hear over and over again how difficult it is to step out of the euphoria of the wedding day into the reality where marriage is lived out.  I agree completely:  With some marriages, it is impossible to do – in human strength.  But when you bring a supernatural being into the picture, the view changes.

God has good plans for our marriages (Jeremiah 29:11), plans that we cannot even begin to understand (Isaiah 55:8-9).  Plans that He ordained from the beginning (Ephesians 2:10 ).  He knew all this before we were born (Psalm 139:16).  He then spends the rest of our lives renewing our minds (Ephesians 4:23) and changing our hearts (Romans 2:12) to come onside with His plan of grace.

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A Woman Ahead of Her Time

Sarah didn’t follow Abraham’s schemes because she was a doormat who believed she had no choice other than to sit in a victim mentality.  She was a woman who was victorious in love and victoriously ahead of her time.  She was living in the dispensation of grace before grace had arrived.

It was her choice.  She already had the freedom to choose, otherwise, Abraham wouldn’t have asked her to decide in his favour.

The World is a system.  It is more a way of thinking than it is a specific activity that takes place outside of a religious venue.

There is a sharp contrast between how the world system operates and how God operates in the spiritual realm.  The peace Jesus refers to in John 14:27 is just one of the examples He uses to draw our attention in order to contrast the two different methods.  Sometimes it gets tricky because the world masquerades as Jesus by appearing as right, righteous or good.  It’s only in the outcome of the benefit that the truth is revealed; am I all for me or am I all for another.

Sarah chose Abraham instead of herself, not just once but twice (see Genesis 12:11-13 & Genesis 20:2).  She trusted God and He protected her.  Her radical faith enabled her to choose grace for her husband, unlike Eve who believed her way was better than Adam’s.  Eve chose self-benefit which lead her to self-trust.  Sarah chose for the benefit of someone else other than herself which lead to deeper trust in God, instead of self.

In Sarah’s choice, she became free.  Free where it really counts.  In Eve’s choice, she became a slave.  She lost the freedom she already possessed and lost it where it really counts.  God has got some fine things to say about Sarah, but all He says about Eve’s character is that she was deceived.

Through feminism, the world tries to tell me I don’t have any freedom and to get it I must choose self over everyone else.  Yet it never actually gives way to any real freedom.  There is only one way to have freedom; true freedom for everyone.  It’s not found in a movement that tells you to take what you think is yours, but in a Person who demonstrated how to give it.

Satan uses the same old strategies in new trendy ways:

                Deception of withholding.  By masquerading as a good choice.  For the illusion of freedom.

Is the old Garden now the new Kingdom?  As the Church grows up in the world could feminism possibly be the one tree in the midst, to not eat from?

Sarah demonstrated how to shift our focus from the debilitating self-centered view that only sees a glass ceiling and instead rise to the top with the true vision of the only corporation that really matters:  Heaven’s hierarchy.

 

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POSSESSION (part 3) Courage to Possess

Possession Introduction here.  Possession (part 2) here.

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Who am I listening to?

Obstacles are about pushing past fear, and Satan knows this.  That’s why he spends so much time pushing the obstacle to block the blessing.  He knows that the more his voice focuses on the problem of the obstacle, the better chance he has of getting us to fold in fear of that obstacle.  It is simply a matter of time.  But, if we choose faith in  God rather than fear of  the obstacle, we become conquerors instead of victims.

Victim:  Fear of the obstacle

Fear is a parasite that feeds on your strength and releases toxin into your soul.  This toxin clouds your mind so you can’t think straight, and it has one purpose:  to mess with your emotions so that you end up with a victim mentality.
The Israelites learned about fear the hard way, remember?  The only ones who actually made it into Canaan were Joshua and Caleb … all the faithless complainers died (Numbers 13/14).  They were unable to conquer because they listened to the wrong counsel – the victims’ counsel.  It’s easy to recognize a victim mentality because their words always diminish.  The scouts themselves were terrified and the only way they could get the Israelites to embrace victim mentality was to convince them of just how impossible it would be to possess Canaan.  So, they gave a report that would distort the nation’s view of God’s power … the power that would have freed them to conquer as they chose obedience to God’s plan. Listen to the negative words that the spies used to cultivate fear instead of faith:

We can’t attack those people;

they’re way stronger than we are. […]

We scouted out the land from one end to the other—it’s a land that swallows people whole.

Everybody we saw was huge.

Why, we even saw the Nephilim giants.

Alongside them we felt like grasshoppers.

And they looked down on us as if we were grasshoppers.”

(Numbers 13:31-33)

 

This report was not only false – as it was directly opposite to what God had told them – but it was also malicious and designed to injure His reputation in the eyes of everyone.  The scouts slowly glided through the congregation of Israel whispering secretly to rally everyone against Joshua and Caleb.  It wasn’t that they lied, per se, they just capitalized on only one aspect of the situation.  It was slick and Satan’s fingerprint is all over it:  a lie by omission.  They told the truth, just not the whole truth.

Who am I listening to and what are they saying?

Conqueror:  Faith in God

Conquerors are people like David, Jesus and Peter. They have a power perspective not a victim view.  Goliath was a giant but David didn’t focus on that.  There were only a few fish and some bread, not enough for all the people, but Jesus didn’t focus on that.  Walk on water?  Impossible!  But Peter didn’t focus on that. (At least, not at first)  In Peter we see both choices stacked back to back.  At first he is fully engaged in the power perspective:

“Lord, if it is [really] You, Command me to come to You on the water. […] So Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water.

But then his focus shifts to the victim view:

But then he saw [the effects of] the wind, he was frightened and began to sink […].”

Shifting our focus from faith to fear will always diminish us to failure.
Caleb displayed a power perspective by challenging the Israelites to ignore the spies, “Don’t listen to these guys, it doesn’t matter what the obstacles are, whether we are grasshoppers or not, it’s about who God is!  You are focusing on the wrong thing!  If we remember God and choose His promise … we are able.”   Caleb didn’t deny the truth of who or what the obstacles were, but concentrated on God’s supernatural ability instead of human strength.

Wrap up 

quote in textAll marriages face obstacles. Some are small and benign, and perhaps even laughable after some time has passed; and some are great offences that require everything you have in your soul.  It’s the greatest offences that bring greatest temptation to have our focus snatched away from the blessing and centered on the obstacle.
Listen to the voice you are hearing.  Really listen.  What does it say?
Does it say that your land of milk & honey is not possible because the obstacles and the giants are too big for you to conquer?  … too big for God to conquer?  After you listen to the voices is your attention drawn to the obstacle rather than God’s power and blessing?  How about the intent behind the voice?  Does it sound like the scouts – hopeless, weak and giving up in fear?  Or, does it sound like Caleb’s words – full of hope, strength and promise?
In the final analysis we need to silence the voices of the spies by listening to a Caleb; it is a voice that pushes through feelings of fear, with faith in God.  It says:  Don’t be afraid (John 14:27).  You will be more than OK (Rom 8:37).  Never, never,  NEVER give up. (ok, that one was Winston Churchill, but I believe he paraphrased it from Heb 13:5)

Who am I listening to

and are they a Caleb

encouraging me to courageously possess my land?!

A Worthy Purpose

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“True happiness is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” –Helen Keller

Have you defined your worthy purpose?

For me, being a wife is the most important role I fill while here on earth.  Submission to Darrell’s authority won’t be a dynamic in our relationship when we’re in heaven; but learning the humility to submit while on earth renews my mind and strengthens my faith.  This humility goes a long way towards shaping my inner person to be fit for eternity. (1 Cor 6:2-3)

God moves through my marriage in His limitless love and power to shape me into the unselfish daughter that He created me to be.  Being a part of marriage allows me to work towards something bigger than me.  Striving to make a positive difference in those closest to me diminishes my human selfishness by shrinking the desires of my flesh and moving me closer to the likeness of Christ.

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There is no one else other than a husband who qualifies to fit in every category of relationship:

  • …have unfailing love for one another1 Peter 4:8
  • … shall love his brother also  – 1 John 4:20
  • …love your neighbour as yourself  – Mark 12:31
  • …no one has greater love […] than to give up his own life for his friends  – John 15:13

Pulling strings or manipulating to gain the advantage in our marriage (more commonly known as getting your own way) will only bring temporary satisfaction; not true happiness.  And does nothing to teach the kind of love that Jesus demonstrated for me to learn.

Marriage isn’t supposed to teach me how to have my own way – do my own thing, or impose my own rights.  But to daily learn how to lay those things down for a better and permanent way.

  • Marriage is God’s plan to grow me.
  • Marriage belongs to God; it’s His way and in His control.
  • Marriage is the best opportunity I have to grow up.  It gives me real life practice of disciplines that will renew my mind to think like Jesus.

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