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

A Necessary “No”

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For the past 10 weeks in our Marriage/Family Bible Study Class on Sundays we have been focused on the verse 3 John 1:2. With this verse, we have been asking ourselves, “How’s Your Soul?” Each week has been a different facet of “How’s Your Soul?” and what that looks like according to God’s Word and our very own Souls. In one week we parked in Genesis 2:1-22 and asked ourselves the question, “What makes a healthy soul?” There were four facets that we studied, but for now, I would like to focus on one of the four: A Healthy Soul Requires a “No.”
“The Lord God commanded the man, saying, ‘From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:16-17
Look at it this way, God gives lots of Permission before His One Restriction. As we read these verses it’s obvious that the odds were so stacked in Adam’s favor: “Any Tree you may eat from freely…Any… But ONE you may not…only one out of the MANY.” Again, God gives lots of Permission before His One Restriction. That’s the Heart of our God, yet we will still focus on the ONE “No.”
That’s the sign of a hurting Soul; they will purposely focus on the ONE “No” and ignore all the “Yes’s” around them.
I gleaned two key nuggets from these two verses. First, this protects the “Integrity” of the definition of love as defined by God. Because Love requires a Choice. Love requires a Yes/No. Love requires a Decision. As we read those verses, we see that the One Tree provides us with a choice: God’s Way or Our Way.
Next, it is true that our soul needs a “NO”…A necessary No. Kerry shared with me that she thought to herself, “How often do you think Adam walked past that tree and had to tell himself ‘No.’?” Great question. We both agreed that every time Adam said “No” it was good for his soul.
So, this is very much about Sin right now. Because it is good for our Soul when we choose to say “No” to distorting and abominating God’s Blessings in our life. However, too often it is not just black & white or “Sin & Not Sin.” It can be anything that leads us into sin and thus we should have said “No” even though so many at the time say “Yes.”
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.” 1 Corinthians 6:12
Think about it, what many may say is good may in fact not be of gain for me at all. Also, even though it’s ok and not ‘sinful’ or ‘illegal’ may easily become my idol and thus slips into sin. So, we began to own this statement, “It is good for you to hear yourself say “No” to yourself.”
So, we encourage each of you this new year to begin to ask yourself these questions: “What is it right now that you are saying “No” to? You could possibly be saying “Yes” and there even may be those around you that do say yes, but you choose to say No?”

In fact, maybe the better question is this… “What do you need to say “No” to starting today?”
As you begin 2018, realize that it is good for your soul to have Restrictions/Boundaries.

We Love you all,
Joe and 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

Where Are You Centered? God or Spouse?

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Wanted to share with a devotion by Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Marriage. This is a foundation that Kerry and I use in our Marriage/Family Counseling…Be God Centered. Take time to read his devotion and see how the Holy Spirit speaks to you: as a spouse, an employee, a student, a parent.

 

 

 

Let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.   2 CORINTHIANS 7:1 

The God-Centered Spouse

GREG NETTLE, PASTOR OF THE RIVERTREE CHRISTIAN CHURCH IN Massillon, Ohio, was walking to his car after a golf tournament when he realized the remote trunk opener wasn’t working. Neither were the automatic door locks. When he finally got inside the car, he saw the fuel gauge reading empty, even though he had filled up on gas less than twenty-four hours before. More frustrating yet, the car would turn over but then immediately die. After a tow truck delivered the disabled vehicle to the dealership, a mechanic came out to Greg and told him the problem: a bad BCM. “What’s a BCM?” “The basic control module. It’s essentially the car’s brain, and once it goes bad, everything starts malfunctioning.”

Greg could have insisted on “fixing” the trunk, the door locks, the gas gauge, and any number of problems — but those were merely the symptoms of an overall malfunction. How often do we do the same thing with marriage! We focus on the symptoms: “We need to improve our communication.” “We need to get better at handling conflict.” “We need to show more appreciation for each other.” “We need to have a more unified plan with the children.” “We need to work harder at keeping the romance alive in our relationship.” We can spend a lifetime focusing on the symptoms, or we can replace the BCM—the basic control module.

I believe the BCM for marriage is our spiritual motivation. It all comes down to this: Are you a God-centered spouse or a spouse-centered spouse? A spouse-centered spouse acts nicely toward her husband when he acts nicely toward her. She is accommodating, as long as her husband pays her attention. A spouse-centered husband will go out of his way for his wife, as long as she remains agreeable and affectionate. He’ll romance her, as long as he feels rewarded for doing so. But Paul tells us we are to perfect holiness out of reverence for God. Since God is always worthy to be revered, we are always called to holiness; we are always called to love. A God-centered spouse feels more motivated by his or her commitment to God than by whatever response a spouse may give. Spouse-centered Christians try to make excuses to stop loving their spouses because of their spouses’ sins. But if this were a valid excuse, every one of us could avoid the call to love, since every one of us married a sinner!

One woman came up to me after a seminar and said, “It would be easy to be married if my husband were half as holy as you.” I managed to contain my laughter and pointed out that she had no idea how “holy” I was; my wife feels pushed beyond her limit in many areas while trying to love this sinful man. But that’s not the point! I am not called to love my wife because she is holier than other wives (though I’m deeply thankful for her godliness). I am not called to love her because she makes me happy (though I am grateful for the many good times we share). I am not called to love her because she makes me go all gooey inside (though sometimes she still does). I am called to love her out of reverence for God. Any other motivation is less than Christian. If I am to rid myself of anything that may contaminate body or spirit, then I can give no place in my life to jealousy, bitterness, resentment, or selfishness. I am always called to practice gentleness, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control. Someone else’s sin —even the sin of my spouse against me — never gives me the license to respond with sin. I am called to just one motivation, and one only: reverence for God.

In one sense, what my spouse says or does or doesn’t do is almost irrelevant. Every decision I make, every word I utter, every thought I think, every movement I perform, is to flow out of one holy motivation: reverence for God.

Are you a God-centered spouse?

~Joe