Forgiveness…4 Principles to Apply to Your Life

“Holding a grudge is like drinking poison and then hoping the other person dies.”                  Saint Augustine

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Forgiveness is one of the most difficult and most misunderstood concepts in all of life. Refusal to do it can create a toxic root of bitterness in our hearts. A lack of forgiveness can wreck marriages, families, careers and most every other aspect of life, but embracing grace in its true form can bring freedom and healing.

This past weekend at our POM Communication Conference, we spoke in great depth on the communication skill of forgiveness. Not only receiving but granting it as well.  It is evident that so many of us struggle with the concept of Biblical Forgiveness, both extending as well as receiving.

Kerry and I would like to share 4 basic principles that we like to put into place on this journey of forgiveness.

To live a life of grace and forgiveness, do the following:

When you’ve blown it, own it!

We live in a world that loves to deflect accountability and assign blame somewhere else. We’d like to believe we’re always either the hero or the victim in every situation, but sometimes, we’re the bad guys! Never admitting fault doesn’t make you look strong; it makes you look foolish. Be willing to swallow your pride, confess your offense, and humbly seek forgiveness.

“Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

Recognize the difference between forgiveness and trust.

Some people reject forgiveness, because they wrongly believe it’s the same thing as trust and since they don’t trust the person, they assume they can’t forgive the person. Forgiveness can’t be earned, only given (that’s called grace). Trust, however, can’t be given, only earned (that’s called “Common Sense!”).

Follow the example of the world’s only perfect Forgiver.

The more you learn from Jesus, the more naturally forgiveness will flow. He is the embodiment of love and grace. We still live with the natural consequences of our decisions, but ultimately, the penalty of our sins was paid for by Him on the cross. Don’t beat yourself or others up for offenses that Jesus has literally taken a beating to forgive.

Give as much forgiveness as you’d like to receive.

We all want grace when we’ve messed up, but we’ve got to realize that grace flows both ways with equal measure. If you want to receive forgiveness, you must also offer forgiveness.

“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” Matthew 6:14-15

Think of it this way- We are not called to “wait” for that person to come and ask for forgiveness. No, we must actively forgive in the moment.
Better example yet, God sent His Son into a world that hated Him. If God had waited for the world to be “worthy” to receive Him, His Son would never have come.

In closing, Forgiveness is so unnatural an act that it takes practice to perfect it. In fact, it is rarely the case that we are able to forgive “one time” and the matter is settled, more often than not, we must relinquish our bitterness a dozen or so times, continually choosing to release the offender from our judgment.

So, today, what do you choose?

Joe & Kerry

Communication Conference-POM

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Effective communication in your marriage is not just about saying and hearing words—it’s all about relaying ideas accurately with the intent of building a mutual understanding. When a husband and wife practice healthy habits for talking, listening, and processing together, it’s not only good for their marriage, but ultimately for the glory of God.

If we are to have marriages that are healthy, enjoyable, and intentional, we must learn and apply wise principles to how we communicate. We must take to heart Solomon’s words:

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding but only in expressing his opinion.” Proverbs 18:2

When we get in the habit of bad communication in our marriage, that’s when we will stifle growth, inhibit intimacy, and create endless spouts of bickering, arguing, and division.

However, when we begin to put into practice healthy communication, our marriages will begin to fuel growth and intimacy and make our marriages resilient against otherwise devastating disagreements.

The foundation towards healthy communication in marriage begins with a humble and listening heart!


Join us on Saturday, May 12th as we begin the journey together to identify and put into practice principles towards effective communication in your marriages.

“Did You Hear What I Just Said?” Conference will take place at Eastern Hills Baptist Church, 3100 Morris NE, Albuquerque, NM  87111 from 2pm till 8pm. A catered Dinner is included in the conference.  The cost is $40 per couple and $25 per individual.

We, Joe & Kerry Vivian, will speak on effective communication towards love, forgiveness, family matters, servanthood, sexual intimacy, and growth in Christ.

Please register at JoenKerry.com on the Communication Conference page or follow this link.  “Did You Hear What I Just Said?”  $25 individual/$40 per couple

Reminder: YOU MUST BE REGISTERED TO ATTEND. THERE WILL BE NO REGISTRATION AT THE DOOR.

Victim or Survivor?

Victim: Something destroyed; something completely sacrificed in the pursuit of an object or situation.

Survivor: One who outlives another or a situation of conflict.

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In this world, it seems that we begin to classify ourselves as either a “Victim” or a “Survivor” of our past or current circumstances.

It’s become easy to play the victim card and stay a prisoner of the past. Not allowing ourselves to look forward, but to be perpetually stuck looking in the rear-view mirror.  We use the pain of past or the trials of the current to set the tone for our life. We become “Hand-Wringers” and use that victim card to remain hopeless and broken. It is the excuse we carry so we no longer have to take responsibility for our own actions but instead we place blame on the past.

Or, we take a new ownership and call ourselves Survivors! We have overcome the past. We no longer place blame on the past, but instead we know where the pain came/comes from and we conquer it. We take either responsibility for our actions or we choose to forgive the one who caused us the pain and terror. We no longer live in the grip on its guilt. We point back to our past and declare we are a survivor.

However, I am asking that you notice something from both those classifications: Victim or Survivor. They both still point to the past. While one is victorious and the other is brokenness, they both rely on the past as their “Badge.”

In the next couple of weeks, I will share with you all some very personal and raw emotions and events from my past. I will also take time to share with you where I was a Victim, where I became a Survivor, but most of all, when I chose to become a New Creation in Christ. The past is gone, a new life has begun.

Hear me please, I truly know that there are many circumstances out in the world that are so overwhelming that you cannot fully understand how to even begin to survive. I will not be trivial nor contrite in the upcoming weeks. I give you my word that I will be honest, true and very transparent. I will share with you my journey and where my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has brought me. So please, let me share with each of you my heart.  Thank you. We will continue this discussion next Monday.

Kerry

5 Questions That Should Be Asked….

Kerry and I spent this past Saturday on a date night. Anyone that knows us well knows how much we advocate “Date Nights” for husbands and wives. This is a time to focus on one another and continue the pursuit of both romance and well as intimacy in your growing marriage. Yet, last week I came across an article that opened my perspective on “Date Nights.”
The article came from Intimate Marriage. They talked about two types of Date Nights. The first one was the one that I always think of, the “Fun Date Nite.” This is the one that is reminiscent of those dates you had when you were courting each other. Very light hearted and a getting to know each other in a fun and creative way. You both took time to enjoy one another’s company and create memories from that date. They introduced another “Date Night” that I feel should be a vital and necessary date time with your spouse: The Working Date.
A “Working Date ” is a regular hour block each week when a husband and wife come together to work on their marriage. In contrast to a “Fun Date Night” where no business is allowed, the working date is set
aside to do the business of marriage. This is the time to ask the 5 questions to one another and instead of justifying your answers or manipulating the conversation, stop and listen to your spouse and ask God to guide you to fulfill the answers shared by your spouse.
This is not an easy task at hand. The questions require prayer, thought, and transparency. Fulfilling those answers requires humility, obedience to God’s will, and a willingness to grow closer to your spouse; the one God ordained for you.

Here are the 5 questions:
1. How did you feel loved this past week? How did you feel hurt this past week?
2. What does your upcoming week look like?
3. How would you feel most loved & encouraged in the days ahead?
4. How would you best feel pursued in sex / intimacy this week?
5. How can I pray for you this week?

Kerry and I spent the entire night asking and answering those 5 questions. Yes, some of the answers were hard to hear and there were times we felt we both needed to justify the “why’s,” however, we knew that this was the time to capture our thoughts, make them obedient to Christ, and serve one another by fulfilling those answers. It turned out to be one of the best “Date Nights” we have had in many years.

So are there any other questions you may add?  What are your thoughts?

What Makes an Orgasm So…

I’ve had some pretty amazing orgasms with my husband, and each time I am in awe of God. In awe that of all the ways He could show off His creativity, He would choose this.

Oh my, what intense, profound, and whimsical depth of pleasure an orgasm is. Only you, God. Only you could come up with something like that.  Remember women and men, that the clitoris serves no other purpose than a wife’s sexual pleasure. None. That’s its only job description. However, we ladies too often fail in allowing it to do its job.

And no other experience even comesIMG_0451 close to the feeling of an orgasm.

Which is why when I hear from wives who have yet to have an orgasm – or who have extreme difficulty experiencing one – I morph into some kind of sex cheerleader, urging them to not give up.

“You do not want to miss out on this! Seriously. Please don’t give up. Don’t fake it. Don’t rob yourself of this. And don’t rob your husband of seeing you and feeling you experience this.”

Sure, I can hear your skepticism at my enthusiasm, as you mull over whether I’m making waayyy too big a deal about sexual climax in the marriage bed.

“Sex isn’t all about orgasm, Kerry!”

True. But let’s not kid ourselves. It’s a lot about orgasm! Yes, I said it!

Ask yourself this question: “When a husband and a wife are physically able to be sexually intimate, yet their sexual encounters drift toward only the husband being sexually satisfied, what happens?”

Enter bored wife, stage right.

Not only does sex become boring, routine and chore-like to a wife in this scenario, it also becomes a source of tremendous resentment.
She begins to begrudge sex; find ways to avoid it; and possibly even blame him. And before long, the whole fabric of the marriage is taking a hit.  Ironically, even he starts to not really enjoy sex, because she’s not into it.  And how could she be? I mean, there’s no pleasure in it for her.

Sure, we’d like to think sexually unsatisfied wives could rise above all that, but human nature being what it is tells us that few wives (if any) really can  just keep “taking one for the team” – without ever getting to hoist the trophy.  And honestly, why would we want them to rise above it?

Why would we want them to keep missing out on the mind-blowing experience of sexual release?

If you are a wife who has never experienced an orgasm and have resigned yourself to never having one, there’s nothing – nothing – noble about your lack of sexual climax.

“But Kerry, if God is such a generous God, why is this so difficult for so many of us wives? Why isn’t a wife’s orgasm as predictable as a husband’s?”

Valid question. Very valid question.

And I used to think that when I get to heaven, I would finally be able to ask God face-to-face my most perplexing sex questions (I know. Probably not what should be high on my priority list at that point, but if you know me at all, you can’t seriously be surprised I wonder these things, right?)

I think, though, I won’t have to wait for my answer, because I think God has already given it to me.

I believe God has created a unique opportunity for a husband and a wife to discover a level of intimacy they otherwise would miss if it was really easy for both of them to climax.  If it was always easy for both a husband and a wife to have an orgasm, I think we would downplay  God’s intention for sex to be this profound connection.

And if it was difficult for both a husband and a wife to have an orgasm, I think we would give up too easily, also missing out on that profound connection.

So instead, God creates a situation where a married couple is left with no other option than to learn together what it will take for them both to experience sexual pleasure.

In the exclusivity of the marriage bed, God invites a husband and a wife to vulnerably and intentionally explore each other’s bodies, to teach each other sexual pleasure, to try new techniques.

Yes, the penis tends to be more predictable than the clitoris, which may leave us assuming that the wife must have greater patience.  But think about the scenario again, okay?  Do you see where both a husband and a wife need patience?  Arousal is an opportunity; not a burden.

Wives, if you struggle experiencing orgasm, I pray you will hear my heart on this.  Your sexual pleasure matters.   If you have thought it doesn’t matter or if your husband has been indifferent, I encourage you to courageously shed light on this.

I know of a wife who was years into her marriage when she finally got the courage to talk to her husband about the reality that she had never been completely satisfied.  She knew that together they had to figure out how to change that unhealthy pattern into a healthier one where they valued pleasure for both of them.

Her marriage and their sexual intimacy are better today because of what at the time was an incredibly awkward conversation. Praise God she pushed through that hesitancy.  By the way, that wife is me and both Joe and I are better for it because of our transparency, not only between the sheets, but in all facets of our marriage.

Ladies, you have heard both Joe and I scream from the rooftops….COMMUNICATE with each other!!  Take time to share with your husband your struggles all the while communicating with him where to touch and how to touch you.

In the next few weeks both Joe and I will contribute to articles on the How, When, Where, and Why of Orgasm. Please know we do not take this lightly nor make this a trivial topic, but we both agree as a husband and wife how important sexually intimacy is in a marriage. When a husband learns because of the communication of his wife on how to bring her to orgasm, or if the wife begins to allow herself to learn more about her body so she can share that with her husband, it is then that a physical intimacy grows exponentially!

What about you?  If you are a wife who struggles experiencing orgasm or if you are a husband with a wife who is missing out on sexual pleasure, what are you going to do today?

The most profound intimate places in a marriage begin with authentic vulnerability.

Kerry

As A Woman Thinks…So She Will Be

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Wives, may I share a secret with you…a lot of who we are sexually is what we tell ourselves. We all have baggage from our lives. It’s very possible that your bags contain regret from premarital sex. Maybe they contain shame and guilt poured onto you from a parent.  There could be heavy bags from sexual abuse that you endured for years, held close and not dealt with because of the pain. Or yet, your bags could be from a previous betrayal of an ex or an existing spouse.  We open up those bags and “tell” ourselves that is who we are sexually and it can never change.  Well, the lies in those bags need to be thrown away and allow Christ to begin to heal you.

God has every intention of blessing your marriage bed. God created sexual intimacy specifically to be shared between a husband and a wife. If you don’t believe that, read chapters 6 & 7 of Song of Solomon. Wives, it’s time you handed over your baggage to God and let Him heal you. If you are in Christ, you are a new creation, the old has passed away.  Let’s start today by having God tell us who we are sexually. Spend time in prayer and ask for His guidance and wisdom. Grab a pen and paper and start writing about your sexuality as God sees it.

What do you think?
What do you feel?
What do you want?
What do you fear?

What do you want your sex life to look like?
What new messages do you need to begin to tell yourself?
What do you need to communicate to your husband?

Take time to really sit down and answer these questions. It’s important that you see yourself as God sees you…fearfully and wonderfully made. Seek first His Kingdom and everything else will fall into place.

Please don’t settle for less than God’s best for your sexuality.

Kerry

Guest Post: “Two Hours a Week to Affair Proof Your Marriage” by Gary Thomas

Today’s guest author is Gary Thomas. He is a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others. He unites the study of Scripture, church history, and the Christian classics to foster spiritual growth and deeper relationships within the Christian community. Check out his Blog here.

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Just two hours a week. 

That’s all it takes to affair-proof and divorce-proof your marriage.

After years of reading, writing, and speaking on marriage, and a few less years doing some pastoral counseling, I’ve identified two things that, when they are in place, can almost guarantee that your spouse won’t have an affair and that you won’t get a divorce.  But you need to do both.

I didn’t come up with these; I’m just recognizing them. You’ve heard of both of them, there’s nothing new here, but consider these two elements as the “canary in the mine.” You remember that old mines used to hold a canary in a cage in case poisonous gas began to leak into the mine. With such tiny lungs, the canary would die first, so the miners knew to get out of there. If your marriage has both elements that we’re about to mention, the “air” in your mine is relatively fresh and healthy and your marriage is probably fairly stable. If one or both of them die, the air is getting poisoned, and you need to take caution. Your marriage is now much more vulnerable to disintegration.

The first element is prayer.  Couples who pray together more days than not—say, 4 or 5 days out of seven—almost never get divorced. Much has been said about how Christians get divorced as often as non-Christians, but that’s not true of praying Christians. Husbands, most of us men have no idea how the rest of marriage will flow from this if we will simply take the lead and pray with and over our wives. I have not been nearly as faithful as I should have been in my marriage in this area, and am regularly convicted that this should be a non-negotiable, because I’ve seen its power in the lives of so many couples. The prayer times don’t need to be long—even five minutes at the beginning or the end of the day will suffice. It is very difficult to stay bitter and resentful or dishonest when praying together regularly. This act all but forces you to maintain a certain level of intimacy, and men, it moves most women in ways we will never understand.

Second, couples who have sexual relations two to three times a week, and who pray together regularly, almost never experience affairs. Wives, many of you have heard me talk about oxytocin and sex—Helen Fisher, the guru of neurochemical sexual research, has recently pointed out how the bonding factor of sexuality is more pronounced in men than it is in women.  That’s why some of you women may not understand the power of regular sexual relations, just as your husband may not understand the power of prayer. You already have elevated levels of oxytocin, but your husband needs that re-bonding release of oxytocin on a regular basis. For young husbands, 2 to 3 days a week might seem Spartan—I’m giving general, not particular, advice here.

The reason these two areas work as “canaries in the mine” is that sustaining regular prayer and regular sexual intimacy requires taking care of the marriage in its entirety. If we’re not talking to our wives, men, they don’t find it very easy to take off their clothes in our presence.  But you know that. And it becomes increasingly difficult to pray with someone if we’re even thinking about cheating on them. There’s just something about being in God’s presence with someone that goes far beyond words—God gives you His heart for that person in a way that can’t be naturally explained.

If either element is lacking (I’m not talking about marriages where a physical ailment makes sexual intimacy impossible), the marriage is taking a regular hit and you’re far more vulnerable to an affair or a divorce. Too many couples over-estimate their willingness to put up with sub-par marriages. They “get by,” slowly becoming spiritually or sexually isolated from each other, not realizing that temptation is patient. It will wait until we’ve reached our breaking point and present itself with a spectacularly captivating enticement just when we feel weakest. Spiritual intimacy and sexual intimacy, enjoyed on a regular basis, makes both parties much less susceptible to an overwhelming temptation.

I have yet to meet or talk with a couple where both of these elements are present that is in serious trouble. If one area is lacking the mere act of making it right—having to talk things out, listen, repent, change—repairs other areas of the marriage as well. Why can’t you pray together? Why don’t you want to enjoy each other? Those very questions lead to so many other issues. In the same way, however, neglecting either area is tantamount to ignoring other relational cancers that are slowly attacking the relationship.

For various reasons, you may not like either medicine, but when you know a medicine is so effective that its cure rate is virtually 100%, or at least in the high nineties, who are we to argue? Maybe, just maybe, God designed married couples to regularly pray and regularly have sex. As the creator of our souls and our bodies, He just might know what he’s talking about.