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.

Getting Back to Holy Sex: Visually Aroused by Our Wives

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Husbands, when were you last aroused by the sight of someone other than your wife? If you’re normal and honest the answer if probably sometime in the last 24 hour to 72 hours. Understand this, I don’t mean the 13-year-old put-a-pillow-in-your-lap like when we were thirteen, but aroused none-the-less.

God created us to be aroused by the female body. Any hint of the soft round parts we don’t have gets our attention, and more than a hint gets us aroused.  It is what it is. However, husbands, God blessed you with a wife to maintain that arousal of her body.

“She is a loving dear, a graceful doe. Let her breasts satisfy you always. May you always be captivated be her love.” Proverbs 5:19 NLT

The HCSB translation says to “be lost in her love forever.”

Yet, some men love the constant sexual tweak they get living in a world of women who either don’t know or don’t care how their attire affects men. Others hate it, feeling it’s an invasion on their mind and/or their marriage. Some men know their wife is always watching them, ready to be upset if he gives any hint he’s aware of whenever and wherever it’s put on display near him.

Being turned on by what you see is part of God’s plan for your sexuality. Satan and a world that denies God have turned that into a problem, but this was not God’s intention. Giving in and running with lust is certainly a risk, but there’s another more insidious danger here. In an attempt to avoid sin we will start to believe the lie that God made us wrong. We are nothing but lustful, out of control animals. So, we begin to suppress those feelings of arousal.  We can suppress our natural reaction to visual sexual stimuli of the sight of our wife because we are afraid of what those images and urges may force us to do outside of the walls of our home.

Your wife may add to the temptation to suppress your natural visual arousal. If she gets upset about your comments, or your eyes following her around the room when she’s half naked, you may decide it’s safer to hide this part of yourself. The problem is this is a mini-castration, removing a part of your God-given sexuality you are to have towards your wife. The blessing of arousal should not be withheld as it pertains to her.

“Let your wife be a fountain of blessing for you. Rejoice in the wife of your youth.”  Proverbs 5:18 NLT

The truth is God intended your wife to be blessed by the way you react to any hint of her sexy body. The world has messed this up, but it’s what God intended and it’s worth trying to get it back. I realize convincing her that her body is sexy is an uphill battle. The world has set a standard no real woman can meet. I think there are only two kinds of women in this world who feel good about how they look: narcissists and those who understand who they are in Christ. Kerry wrote about this in her post “Ladies, Here is the Perfect Body”  Hopefully, your wife is not the first and is on her way to being the second.

You may or may not be able to discuss this with your wife at this time, but you can settle it in your own mind. You are aroused by the female body because God created you to be aroused by it. Living in a fallen world makes this gift a problem at times, but it doesn’t make the gift wrong or bad. Learn to embrace and enjoy the way you react to your wife’s body, and pray she can hear the truth from you about your pleasure.

Joe

Beauty for Ashes

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On Friday, September 29th, I was asked to speak for the women at our church for their Fall Celebration Dinner. I was asked to share how I exchanged Beauty for Ashes.

So, I wanted to now share with each of you my message from that evening. Yes, I have shared of what it means to be a survivor and how to not play the “victim” card; however, after that evening, I felt God move so much deeper in so many ladies lives that night because of my obedience and transparency.

So here is my message. May God speak to each of you as He continually speaks to me.

At around the age of 8 my mother allowed a male family member to live in our house that sexually abused me over a period of time.  The instability in my young life allowed for me to “neatly” package these experiences away. It wasn’t until the age of 37, 17 years into my marriage, did I finally realize that in order to heal I had to acknowledge my abuse. Even though I never admitted the abuse, it permeated into the intimacy of my marriage and the ability to deeply know the fullness of my Savior Christ!

Let me explain the “Trigger Point” that brought me to the beginning of my healing. Joe was officiating a wedding and as he spoke to the couple about how important transparency was in a marriage it hit me that I wasn’t being transparent to Joe, not myself. I knew my hurt was like a wound that was festering. It was gaping and severely infected at the time. I truly believed that if I never looked at it, acknowledged it, that it somehow didn’t exist. So very silly to think that way; however, I truly believe that we all do that with so many things in our lives.

I had to speak it, bring it to life, acknowledge it before I could begin the healing process.

During my healing process I realized God was there. He never left my side. It is difficult to think about God being there, but I believe God saw the crown on my head-He saw the ending before it even began.  He protected me physically and mentally when my young mind couldn’t process what was happening. Christ–as fully man and fully God–knew the feeling of shame and embarrassment. Anything I was feeling or thinking, if it was anger or sadness, I could give it to Him.

The healing process took a couple of years, many a bit longer. I would truly think I dealt with it all, then a memory would come up and the process would start all over again. I now truly see God speaking to me during those times, “OK, you are owning this part, now let me give you this piece to add to the overall picture.”  It also took Joe time for him to process and heal as well. For the first couple of months he was ready to get on a plane, find him, punish him and even possibly place him in a place no one would ever find him. Joe’s anger and rage was only tempered by God’s grace and the men of God who surrounded him. We all needed and took “baby steps” in this healing process.

My abuser has since passed away and I really do pray that that before he passed away he surrendered his life to Christ and sought forgiveness.

During this healing process and every day since, Isaiah 61:3 comes alive in my soul!

I want to share with everyone on how His words spoke directly to my pain and abuse.

“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, a festive praise instead of despair.  In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.”    Isaiah 61:3

 

When I gave Him my past, He let the hurts completely burn and all that was left was ashes.

“To all who mourn in Israel, He will give you a crown of beauty for ashes,”

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The definition of ash is the solid residue left when material is thoroughly burned.  Think about it, these hurts can no longer be a fire again that can dictate my fears or thoughts. To get those ashes burning I must add something to them to create the activation energy needed.  This is why I must not use my past as a reason to think or behave in a negative way. When I fully gave Him my hurts — they became ashes. And the beautiful thing is that He took my ashes and gave me a beautiful crown.

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The definition of a crown is a reward of victory or a mark of honor. Something that imparts splendor, honor, or a finish, a culmination. I love that last part- a culmination- an attained objective. God not only was with me during my abuse, but was walking with me, healing me, turning my hurt to ruins, and then in turn He took my ashes and in turn, gave me a Crown!  A Crown He places on my head! WOW. He has always seen that Crown on my head, always.

 

a joyous blessing instead of mourning,”

I have an option here. Will I choose blessing or mourning? I choose blessings. The blessing of forgiveness that He shows to me for holding on to the past and letting it infect my marriage relationship. And to the forgiveness that I can offer my offenders: my mother and my abuser.

My mother and I never had an intimate relationship. I probably spoke to her once a year. When I found out she had cancer, I made a trip to see her in August of 2016. When I was there I asked her if she had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. She replied, “Yes Kerry.” That was closure for me. When she passed away this past June, I took comfort in the fact that we will both be together in Heaven and will have a whole new and restored relationship together.

Because He forgave me I can forgive others.

The blessing of hope of the future that offers peace. The blessing of His truth and not the poison of the world that tell me to live out my past as anger. The blessing of being able to share with others the healing. I love what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4. This is what it says from the Message:

“All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, He brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us.” 

All circumstances can lead to His Glory. That is the reason I am standing here right now.

 

“a festive praise instead of despair.”

Again, I have an option. Because of that, I choose to praise Him.

Have you ever gotten ashes on your hands? They come off on everything you touch. To me this is a picture of despair. I will not take the ashes of my past hurt and spread them on myself or to others as a sign of “poor me.”

Praise shakes up the enemy and empowers us to be bigger than our circumstance. Praise is being active in the healing process. Praise is showing that the Lord is great and powerful. Praise requires intentional thoughts and actions and I want to be intentional in my walk.

 

“In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the Lord has planted for His own glory.”

When I choose joyous blessings, when I choose festive praise, I then stand in righteousness.

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Remember this: A great oak tree stands for strength, but it starts off as a seed.

Oak sapling sprouted from an acorn.

Let me show you something amazing about our creator God. Look at this other definition of a crown. The region of a seed plant at which the stem and root merge. He makes us like great oaks but it starts off as a crown. And in order to grow we need to stay in Him.

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When we are submerged in Him we grow deep roots and become stronger in Him. The outcome is we grow like a great oak that He planted for His glory

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When we give Him our hurts and truly let Him in our lives we see His grace and love. We see that those hurts are now ashes. We give Him our ashes and He gives us a crown of beauty. A reward for our victories in Him that marks the splendor of His love!

 

Thank you for taking time to read about my journey: Beauty from Ashes.

May you look for those hurts that are in your life and replace them with a Crown of Beauty!

-Kerry

 

Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sleeping Together

“Catch all the foxes, those little foxes, before they ruin the vineyard of love, for the grapevines are blossoming.”  Song of Songs 2:15

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Adulterous Affairs Don’t Begin with Sleeping Together; they begin with inappropriate friendships. Friendship and emotional attachments with people of the opposite sex can spell danger for your marriage. This is where you husbands, must daily make a choice to protect your marriage. Wives, this is for you as well.  What do you chose?

 

Kerry and I have witnessed many couples who “innocently” will become emotionally attracted to a member of the opposite sex. They become “bored” with the relationship they are in and begin to truly believe that there is something better for them. Instead of investing into their own marriage by seeking counsel and choosing to focus on where they are falling short in the marriage, they instead begin to drift away-emotionally and physically, and especially-spiritually.

 

So here are 4 Warnings for you to be aware of in your marriage and heed immediately.

 

 

  1. Protect your marriage by avoiding private communications and intimate conversations with people of the opposite sex. Too often we see Social Media and Texting becoming a hidden area of spouses worlds. The best way to avoid this is to make sure that you and your spouse share the same pass codes and that at any given time, they have the right to look into your phone for emails, texts, social media posts and IM’s. You have nothing to hide from your spouse…Nothing.

 

 

  1. Beware of workmates who seem too concerned with your personal private life; those that tell you “let me know if you need anything.” That’s the beginning of an open invitation to draw closer to them instead of your spouse. Do not share intimate details with workmates about the trials and struggles in your marriage. If you need to talk to someone, find a marriage counselor, a pastor or find another couple that shares your values and the four of you take time to talk it out.

 

 

  1. Beware of those that give you exaggerated and suggestive compliments about the way you look. Regardless of what is happening in your marriage don’t give the Devil a foothold in your marriage by falling victim to this trap. Let your workmates know there are things you won’t tolerate. Enough said…

 

 

  1. Keep a healthy physical, social and emotional distance between you and people of the opposite sex. This is the most important facet to all of these warnings. Your workmates need to know without a doubt that you are married, that you are in love with your spouse, and nothing will come between you both. Make sure to have pictures up of your family and spouse. Wear your wedding ring. Smile when you talk about your spouse.

 

So in closing, I ask the same question…”What do you chose?”

 

 

Joe

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

Are You Married in Public?

“He has brought me to his banquet hall, And his banner over me is love.”  Song of Solomon 2:4

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Here’s a question for you married folks…Is your love for one another evident to those around you? Better question, “Do strangers know you two are married?”

Ok, before you quit reading and move on with life, seriously take time and reflect on those answers.  Too often, we as married couples, fall into a rut or routine.  We take for granted the relationship God has ordained for us as a husband and wife. Instead of purposely pursuing intimacy in our marriages daily, we begin to assume that each of us is ok and content with the amount of physical, emotional, and spiritual intimacy we are currently displaying to one another. So, no need to try any harder, it’s just fine where we are. To that attitude, I cry foul! That’s just plain lazy as a spouse.

Look what the Shulamite Woman writes in SofS 2:4. Solomon, the King of Israel, displays a love for her for all to witness. It is evident that there is a genuine love he has for her and she in return, reflects that love for all to see. It is clear that they are in love. This is probably the first Biblical account of a PDA: Public Display of Affection. There is no need for them to be locked in a passionate kiss, nor are they all handsy with one another. No, it’s probably the way they look at one another, set aside and focus on one another, probably the way they hold hands and speak to one another in public is the beginning of telling those they encounter that they love one another.

Jesus spoke it clearly, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”   John 13:34-35

Stop what you are doing when your spouse enters a room or is in eye shot and make eye contact with them. Smile and give them a wink. Acknowledge that you see them and know they are near. Hold hands and smile when you are together. Be walking side by side, not in a military line showing “who is in charge.”  Speak words of encouragement and tenderness to one another. To be sarcastic and rude to one another in public, or even in front of friends or children, is rude and toxic to your marriage. Even a soft kiss on the cheeks or lips, save the passionate kissing for private, is a beautiful way to display the precious gift of marriage that Christ has given to each of you.

Again, when you are in public with your spouse do those around you see a “banner of love” between you two? Start today to display the love you have for each other and in turn you will display a Christ-Centered love that will reflect the Gospel for all to witness.

Begin today with a new banner for your spouse!

Joe and Kerry