First, a unique aspect of love will be discussed. Read each of these carefully and be open to a new understanding of what it means to genuinely love someone.
Second, you will be given a specific dare to do for your spouse. Some will be easy and some very challenging. But take each dare seriously, and be creative and courageous enough to attempt it. Don't be discouraged if outside situations prevent you from accomplishing a specific dare. Just pick back up as soon as you can and proceed with the journey.
Last, you will be given journal space to log what you are learning and doing and how your spouse is responding. It is important that you take advantage of this space to capture what is happening to both you and your mate along the way. These notes will record your progress and should become priceless to you in the future.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. - Ephesians 4:2
Love works. It is life's most powerful motivator., It always does what is best for others and can empower us to face the greatest of problems, No marriage is successful without it
Love is built on two pillars that best define what it is. Those pillars are patience and kindness, The irony of anger toward a wrongful action is that it spawns new wrongs of its own. Anger almost never makes things better. In fact, it usually generates additional problems. But patience stops problems in their tracks., Do you find that anger is your emotional default when treated unfairly?, Anger is usually caused when the strong desire for something is mixed with disappointment or grief, Patience, however, makes us wise. It doesn't rush to judgment but listens to what the other person is saying., Patience is where love meets wisdom. And every marriage needs that combination to stay healthy., Patience helps you give your spouse permission to be human. It understands that everyone fails. When a mistake is made, it chooses to give the more time than they deserve to correct it., What would the tone and volume of your home be like if you tried this biblical approach?, Few of us do patience very well, and none of us do it naturally., Wise men and women will pursue it as an essential ingredient to their marriage relationships, This Love Dare journey is a process, and the first thing you must resolve to possess is patience
Today's Dare, The first part of this dare is fairly simple. Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart. For the next day, resolve to demonstrate patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all. If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything. It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you'll regret., Did anything happen today to cause anger towards your mate? Were you tempted to think disapproving thoughts and to let them come out in words?, Everyone must be quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger. (James 1:19)
Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you. - Ephesians 4:32
Kindness is, love in action, how love acts to maximize a positive circumstance, proactive, four basic core ingredients, Gentleness, Never being unnecessarily harsh. You're sensitive. Tender. Even if you need to say hard things, you'll bend over backwards to make your rebuke or challenge as easy to hear as possible., Helpfulness, Kindness graces a wife with the ability to serve her husband without worrying about her rights, Kindness makes a husband curious to discover what his wife needs, then motivates him to be the one who steps up and ensures those needs are met - even if his are put on hold, Willingness, Rather than complaining and making excuses, you look for reasons to compromise and accommodate, Initiative, Kindness thinks ahead, then takes the first step, Don't require the other to get his or her act together before showing love
Love makes you kind. And kindness makes you likable.
Kind people simply find favor wherever they go
The Bible keys in on the importance of kindness
Love in its truest sense is not based on feelings. Rather, love determines to show thoughtful actions even when there seems to be no reward. You will never learn to love until you learn to demonstrate kindness.
Today's Dare, In addition to saying nothing negative to your spouse again today, do at least one unexpected gesture as an act of kindness., What discoveries about love did you make today? What specifically did you do in this dare? How did you show kindness?, What desirable in a man is his kindness. (Proverbs 19:22)
Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor. - Romans 12:10
The culture around us teaches us to focus on our appearance, feelings, and personal desires as the top priority, The danger from this kind of thinking, however, becomes painfully apparent once inside a marriage relationship
If there were ever a word that basically means opposite of love, it is selfishness
Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive
Why do we have such low standards for ourselves but high expectations for our mate?
Love is never satisfied except in the welfare of others, True love looks for ways to say "yes", Choosing to love your mate will cause you to say "no" to what you want so you can say "yes" to what they need, It doesn't mean you can never experience happiness, but you don't negate the happiness of your spouse so you can enjoy it yourself, When you prioritize the well being of your mate, there is a resulting fulfillment that cannot be duplicated by selfish actions, When you relinquish your rights for the sake of your mate, you get a chance to lose yourself to the greater purpose of marriage, If you find it hard to sacrifice your own desires to benefit your spouse, then you may have a deeper problem with selfishness than you want to admit, Ask yourself these questions, Do I truly want what's best for my husband or wife?, Do I want them to feel loved by me?, Do they believe I have their best interests in mind?, Do they see as looking out for myself first?
Even generous actions can be selfish if the motive is to gain bragging rights or receive a reward
When a husband puts his interests, desires, and priorities in front of his wife, that's a sign of selfishness. When a wife constantly complains about the time and energy she spends meeting the needs of her husband, that's a sign of selfishness.
You have a reputation in the eyes of those around you, especially in the eyes of your spouse., Determine to be the first to demonstrate real love to them, with your eyes wide open. And when all is done, you'll both be more fulfilled.
Today's Dare, Whatever you put your time, energy, and money into will become more important to you. It's hard to care for something you are not investing in. Along with restraining from negative comments, buy your spouse something that says "I was thinking of you today.", What did you choose to give to your spouse? What happened when you gave it?, Where jealousy and selfish ambition exists, there is disorder. (James 3:16)
How precious also are Your thoughts to me. . . .How vast is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would outnumber the sand. - Psalm 139:17-18
Love thinks. It's not a mindless feeling that rides on waves of emotion and falls asleep mentally.
When you first fell in love, being thoughtful came quite naturally, You spent hours dreaming of what your loved one looked like, wondering what he or she was doing, rehearsing impressive things to say, then enjoying sweet memories of the time you spent together, You honestly confessed, "I can't stop thinking about you."
For most couples, things begin to change after marriage, Sparks of romance slowly burn into grey embers, and the motivation for thoughtfulness cools, Marriage has added another person to your universe, If your thinking doesn't mature enough to constantly include this person, you catch yourself being surprised rather than being throughtful, "Today's our anniversary?, "Why didn't you include me in that decision?", "Don't you think about anyone but yourself?"
Today's Dare, Contact your spouse sometime during the business of the day. Have no agenda other than asking how he or she is doing and if there is anything you could do for them., What did you learn about yourself or your spouse by doing this today? How could this become a more natural, routine, and genuinely helpful part of your lifestyle?, I thank my God in all my remembrance of you. (Philippians 1:3)
Thoughtlessness is a silent enemy to a loving relationship, Men struggle with thoughtfulness more than women., A man can focus like a laser on one thing and forget the rest of the world, Men tend to think in headlines, His words are more literal and shouldn't be overanalyzed, A woman, on the other hand, is more multi-conscious, able to maintain an amazing awareness of many factors at once, Women thinking and speak between the lines. They tend to hint., A man often has to listen for what is implied if he wants to get the full meaning, If she always has to put the pieces together for him, it steals the opportunity for him to demonstrate that he loves her, Deeply longs for her husband to be thoughtful. It is a key to helping her feel loved.
Love requires thoughtfulness - on both sides - the kind that builds bridges through the constructive combination of patience, kindness, and selflessness, Love teaches you how to meet in the middle, A husband should listen to his wife and learn to be considerate of her unspoken messages, A wife should learn to communicate truthfully and not say one thing while meaning another
The thoughtful nature of love teaches you to engage your mind before engaging your lips. Love thinks before speaking.
He who blesses his friend with a loud voice early in the morning, it will be reckoned a curse to him. - Proverbs 27:14
Nothing irritates others as quickly as being rude, No one likes being around a rude person, Rude behavior seems insignificant to the person doing it, but it's unpleasant to those on the receiving end
Genuine love minds its manners, Good manners express to your wife or husband, "I value you enough to exercise some self-control around you. I want to be a person who's a pleasure to be with.", If you don't let love motivate you to make needed changes in your behavior, the quality of your marriage relationship will suffer for it
People who practice good etiquette tend to raise the respect level of the environment around them
Reasons why people are rude, Ignorance, Selfishness
Test yourself with these questions, How does your spouse feel about the way you speak and act around them?, How does your behavior affect your mate's sense of worth and self-esteem?, Would your husband or wife say you're a blessing, or that you're condescending and embarrassing?
Guiding principles when it comes to practicing etiquette in your marriage, Guard the Golden Rule, Treat your mate the same way you want to be treated, No double standards, Be as considerate to your spouse as you are to strangers and coworkers, Honor requests, Consider what your husband or wife already asked you to do or not to do. If in doubt, then ask.
Today's Dare, Ask your spouse to tell you three things that cause him or her to be uncomfortable or irritated with you. You must do so without attacking them or justifying your behavior. This is from their perspective only., What things did your spouse point out about you that need your attention? How did you handle hearing it? What do you plan to do to improve these areas?, The words from the mouth of a wise man are gracious. (Ecclesiates 10:12)
He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit, than he who captures a city. - Proverbs 16:32
Love is hard to offend and quick to forgive, When under pressure, love doesn't turn sour, Love does not get angry or hurt unless there is a legitimate and just reason in the sight of God, A loving husband will remain calm and patient, showing mercy and restraining his temper, A loving wife is not overly sensitive or cranky but exercises emotional self-control
Being easily angered is an indicator that a hidden area of selfishness or insecurity is present where love is supposed to rule
When love enters your heart, it calms you down and inspires you to quit focusing on yourself
It then [love] sets up your heart to respond to your spouse with patience and encouragement rather than anger and exasperation
Take a "Sabbath" vacation day every week for worship and rest
Today's Dare, Choose today to react to tough circumstances in your marriage in loving ways instead of with irritation. Begin by making a list below of areas where you need to add margin to your schedule. Then list any wrong motivations that you need to release from your life., Where do you need to add margin to your life? When have you recently overreacted? What was your real motivation behind it? What decisions have you made today?, I always do my best to have a clear conscience toward God and men. (Acts 24:16)
[Love] believes all things, hopes all things. - 1 Corinthians 13:7
In the deep and private corridors of your heart, there is a room. It's called the Appreciation Room., On the walls are written kind words and phrases describing the good attributes of your mate, They are things you've discovered about your husband or wife that have embedded themselves in your memory, The more time you spend meditating on these positive attributes, the more grateful you are for your mate, You spend a great deal of time dwelling on them in this room...before you were married. But you may have found that you don't visit this special room as often as you once did. That's because there is another competing room nearby.
Down another darker corridor of your heart lies the Depreciation Room, On its walls are written the things that bother and irritate you about your spouse, This room is lined with weaknesses and failures of your husband or wife, It's where ammunition is kept for the next big fight and bitterness is allowed to spread like a disease, The more time you spend in this place, the more your heart devalues your spouse, We have this unfortunate tendency to downplay our own negative attributes while putting our partner's failures under a magnifying glass., The only reason you should glance in the door of the Depreciation Room is to know how to pray for your spouse
Love focuses on the positive, As you choose to meditate on the positives, you will learn that many more wonderful character qualities could be written across these walls. Your spouse is a living, breathing, endless book to be read., You must develop the habit of reining in your negative thoughts and focusing on the positive attributes of your mate. This is a crucial step as you learn to lead your heart to truly love your spouse.
Today's Dare, For today's dare, get two sheets of paper. On the first one, spend a few minutes writing out positive things about your spouse. Then do the same with negative things on the second sheet. Place both sheets in a secret place for another day. There is a different purpose and plan for each. At some point during the remainder of the day, pick a positive attribute from the first list and thank your spouse for having this characteristic., Which list was easier to make? What did this reveal about your thoughts? What attribute did you thank your spouse for having?, If there is anything praiseworthy-meditate on these things. (Philippians 4:8 NKJV)
Love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire. - Song of Solomon 8:6 NIV
Jealousy is one of the strongest drives known to man, Legitimate jealousy, Based upon love, Sparks when someone you love, who belongs to you, turns his or her heart away and replaces you with someone else, Illegitimate jealousy, Based upon jealousy, Sparks when someone else upstages you and gets something you want, It can poison you from living the life of love God intended
Both of you became one and were to share in enjoyment of the other., Celebrate the successes of your spouse rather than resenting them, Let your mate's successes draw you closer together and give you greater opportunities to show genuine love
Today's Dare, Determine to become your spouse's biggest fan and to reject any thoughts of jealousy. To help set your heart on your spouse and focus on their achievements, take yesterday's list of negative attributes and discreetly burn it. Then share with your spouse how glad you are about a success he or she recently enjoyed., How hard was it to destroy the list? What are some positive experiences that you can celebrate in the life of your mate? How can you encourage them toward future successes?, Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (Romans 12:15)
Greet one another with a kiss of love. - 1 Peter 5:14
Dealing with the way you greet your spouse each day may seem inconsequential, but this small issue carries surprising significance
You can tell a lot about the state of a couple's relationship from the way they greet one another, Expression, Countenance, How they speak to each other, Physical Contact
It's probably something you don't think about every often - the first thing you say to him ore her in the morning when you wake up, the look on your face when you get in the car, the energy in your voice when you speak on the telephone
Something else you probably don't stop to consider - the difference it would make in your spouse's day if everything about you expressed the fact that you were really, really glad to see them, When someone communicates that they are glad to see you, your personal sense of self-worth increases, Like love, it puts wind in your sails, How could you excite his or her various senses with a simple word, a touch, or a tone of voice? A loving greeting can bless your spouse through what they see, hear, and feel., It doesn't have to be dramatic every time, Adding warmth and enthusiasm gives you the chance to touch your mate's heart in subtle, unspoken ways, Even when you're not getting along too well, you can lessen the tension and give them value by the way your greet them.
Today's Dare, Think of a specific way you'd like to greet your spouse today. Do it with a smile and with enthusiasm. Then determine to change your greeting to reflect your love for them., When and where did you choose your special greeting? How will you change your greeting from this point on?, For I have come to have much joy and comfort in your love. (Philemon 7)
God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. - Romans 5:8
If your reasons for loving your spouse all have something to do with his or her qualities - and then those same qualities suddenly or gradually disappear - your basis for love is over
The only way love can last a lifetime is if it's unconditional, The bible refers to this kind of love by using the Greek word agape (pronounced uh-GOP-ay), Love is not determined by the one being loved but rather by the one choosing to love, It differs from the other types of love, which are - phileo (friendship) and eros (sexual love), Selfless and unconditional, "in sickness and health" love, "for richer or poorer" love, "for better or worse" love, It is the only kind of love that is true love
If a man says to his wife, "I have fallen out of love with you," he is actually saying, "I never loved you unconditionally to begin with."
That's not to say, though, that love which began for the wrong reasons cannot be restored and redeemed. In fact, when you rebuild your marriage with agape as its foundation, then the friendship and romantic aspects of your love become more endearing than ever before.
Don't be surprised when your spouse begins living confidently under its shade [agape love], he or she doesn't become even more lovable to you than you remember. You will no longer say, "I love you because..." You will now say, "I love you, period."
Today's Dare, Do something out of the ordinary today for your spouse - something that proves (to you and to them) that your love is based on your choice and nothing else. Wash her car. Clean the kitchen. Buy his favorite dessert. Fold the laundry. Demonstrate love to them for the sheer joy of being their partner in marriage., Has your love in the past been based on your spouse's attributes and behavior, or on your commitment? How can you continue to show love when it's not returned in a way you hoped for?, He who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him. (Psalm 32:10)
Husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. - Ephesians 5:28
Consider these two scenarios, A man's older car begins having serious trouble, so he takes it to a mechanic, Because of the expensive repairs, he determines to get rid of the car and spend his funds on a new vehicle, Those who have this view do not understand the significant bond between a husband and wife, An engineer accidentally crushes his hand in a piece of equipment, He willingly uses his savings to have it doctored and placed in a cast, then gingerly nurses it back to health over the following months, You would never cut off your hand if it was injured but would pay whatever you could afford for the best medical treatment possible. That's because your hand is priceless to you.
Marriage is a beautiful mystery created by God, joining two lives together as one, This not only happens physically but spiritually and emotionally, Your identity as individuals has been joined into one, You must treat them with the same nurture and care that you treat yourself, When you show love to your spouse, you are showing love to yourself as well
Don't let the culture around you determine the worth of your marriage
When you look at your mate, you're looking at a part of you. So treat her well. Speak highly of him. Nourish and cherish the love of your life., Whenever a husband looks into the eyes of his wife, he should remember that "he who loves his wife loves himself.", A wife should remember that when she loves him, she is also giving love and honor to herself
Today's Dare, What needs does your spouse have that you could meet today? Can you run an errand? Give a back rub or foot massage? Is there housework you could help with? Choose a gesture that says, "I cherish you" and do it with a smile., What did you choose to show that you cherish your mate? What did you learn from this experience?, Answering him, Jesus said, "What do you want Me to do for you?" (Mark 10:51)
Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. - Philippians 2:4
Stubbornness comes as a standard feature on both husband and wife models, Defending your rights and opinions is a foundational part of your nature and make-up, It's detrimental, though, inside a marriage relationship, and it steals away from time and productivity, There's only one way to get beyond stalemates like these, and that's by finding a word that's the opposite of stubbornness-a word we first met back while discussing kindness. That word is "willing.", "Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5)-the attitude of willingness, flexibility, and humble submission. It means laying down for the good of others what you have the right to claim for yourself., The very moment one of you says, "I'm willing to go your way on this one," the argument will be over, "Yes, but then I'll look foolish. I'll lose the fight. I'll lose control.", You've already looked foolish by being bullheaded and refusing to listen. You've already lost the fight by making thise issue more important than your marriage and your spouse's sense of woth. You already lost emotional control by saying things that got personal and hurt your mate., "The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield" (James 3:17 NKJV)
You won't always see eye-to-eye
Give up your right and choose to honor the one you love. It will be both good for you and good for your marriage
Today's Dare, Demonstrate love by willingly choosing to give in to an area of disagreement between you and your spouse. Tell them you are putting their preference first., What issue did you choose? What did giving in cost you? How will this help you in the future?, If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (Romans 12:18
If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. - Mark 3:25
From the moment you unpacked from your honeymoon, you began the real process of unpacking one another, unpleasantly discovering how sinful and selfish each of you could be, Pretty soon your mate started to slip off your lofty pedestal, and you off of theirs, You argued and fought
Don't think living out today's dare will drive all conflict from your marriage. Instead, this is about dealing with conflict in such a way that you come out healthier on the other side. Both of you. Together.
The deepest, most heartbreaking damage you'll ever do (or ever have done) to your marriage will most likely occur in the thick of conflict
Love steps in and changes things, It reminds you that conflict can actually be turned around for good, Married couples who learn to work through conflict tend to be closer, more trusting, more intimate, and enjoy a much deeper connection afterwards, "We" boundaries are rules you both agree on beforehand, rules that apply during any fight or altercation, "Me" boundaries are rules you personally practice on your own
Fighting fair means, Changing your weapons, Disagreeing with dignity, Building a bridge instead of burning one down
Love is not a fight, but it is always worth fighting for
Today's dare, Talk with your spouse about establishing healthy rules of engagement. If your mate is not ready for this, then write out your own personal rules to "fight" by. Resolve to abide by them when the next disagreement occurs., If your spouse participated with you, what was their response? What rules did you right out for yourself?, Be of the same mind toward one another. (Romans 12:16)
Enjoy life with the wife you love all the days of your fleeting life. - Ecclesiates 9:9 HCSB
One of the most important things you should learn on your Love Dare journey is that you should not just follow your heart. You should lead it.
Love that chooses to love is just as powerful as love that feels like loving. In many ways, it's a truer love because it has its eyes wide open.
Left to ourselves, we'll always lean toward being disapproving of one another, Life is too short to waste in bickering over petty things, Instead, it's time to lead your heart to once again delight in your mate, It's time to remember why you once fell in love. To laugh again. To flirt again. To dream again. Delightfully., The responsibility is yours to relearn what you love about this one to whom you've promised yourself forever
Today's dare, Purposefully neglect an activity you would normally do so you can spend quality time with your spouse. Do something he or she would love to do or a project they'd really like to work on. Just be together., What did you decide to give up? What did you do together? How did it go? What new thing did you learn (or relearn) about your spouse?, Give me your heart...and let your eyes delight in my ways. (Proverbs 23:26)
Live with your wives in an understanding way...and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life. - 1 Peter 3:7
There are certain words in our language that have powerful meanings. Whenever these words are used, an air of respect is associated with them. These words never lose their timeless quality, class, and dignity., Honor, Honoring your mate means giving him or her your full attention, When decisions are being made that affect both of you or your whole family, you give your mate's voice and opinion equal influence in your mind, Love honors even when it's rejected. Love treats its beloved as special and sacred even when an ungrateful attitude is all you get in return., Holy, A word that actually forms the basis for honor-the very reason why we give respect and high regard to our husband or wife, To say your mate is "holy" to you doesn't mean that he or she is perfect, Set apart for a higher purpose, No longer common or everyday but special and unique, When two people marry, each spouse becomes "holy" to each other by way of "holy matrimony.", No other person in the world is supposed to enjoy this level of commitment and endearment from you, Your heart, your possessions, your life itself is to be wrapped up in the uncommon bond you share with this one individual
Today's dare, Choose a way to show honor and respect to your spouse that is above your normal routine. It may be holding the door for her. It might be putting his clothes away for him. It may be the way you listen and speak in your communications. Show your mate that he or she is highly esteemed in your eyes., How did you choose to show honor? What was the result? What are some other ways you could demonstrate honor in the coming days?, I will also honor them and they will not be insignificant. (Jeremiah 30:19)
Beloved, I pray that in all respects you may prosper and be in good health, just as your soul prospers. - 3 John 2
You cannot change your spouse, You can become a "wise farmer.", A farmer cannot make a seed grow into a fruitful crop, He cannot argue, manipulate, or demand it to bear fruit, He can plant the seed into fertile soil, give it water and nutrients, protect it from weeds, and then turn it over to God, There is no guarantee that anything in this book will change your spouse. But that's not what this book is about. It's about you daring to love. If you take the Love Dare seriously, there is a high likelihood that you will be personally changed from the inside out., If you carry out each dare, your spouse will likely be affected and your marriage will begin to bloom in front of your eyes, You will need something that is more powerful than anything else you have. And that is effective prayer., Prayer works best when coming from a humble heart that is in a right relationship with God and others, Have you ever wondered why God gives you overwhelming insight into your spouse's hidden faults?, A husband will fix that God can "fix" his wife a lot better than he can. A wife will accomplish more through strategic prayer than from all her persuasive efforts. It's also a much more pleasant way to live., Pray for exactly what your mate needs, One of the most loving things you can ever do for your spouse is to pray for them. "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7)
Today's dare, Begin praying today for your spouse's heart. Pray for three specific areas where you desire for God to work in your spouse's life and in your marriage., Have you experienced the power of prayer in the past? What did you choose to pray about? Was it easy for you, or did it feel foreign to you?, If anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He listens to him. (John 9:31)
He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. - Proverbs 17:9 NIV
Marriage is the most intimate of all human relationships
Each of us comes into life with an inborn hunger to be known, loved, and accepted
Are the secrets your spouse knows about you reasons for shame, or reasons for drawing you closer? If your spouse were to answer this same question, would they say you make them feel safe, or scared?, If home is not considered a place for safety, you will both be tempted to seek it somewhere else, Your mate should not feel pressured to be perfect in order to receive your approval, Being "naked" and "not ashamed" (Genesis 2:25) should exist in the same sentence, right in your marriage-physically and emotionally, Both of you have reason to feel embarrassed that this much has been revealed about you to another living soul, But this is your opportunity to wrap all this private information about them in the protective embrace of your love, and promise to be the one who can best help him or her deal with it, Some of these secrets may need, Correcting, To be accepted
Yet God, who knows secrets about us that we even hide form ourselves, loves us at a depth we cannot begin to fathom. How much more should we-as imperfect people-reach out to our spouse in grace and understanding, accepting them for who they are and assuring them that their secrets are safe with us?
This may be an area where you've really failed in the past. If so, don't expect your mate to immediately give you wide open access to their heart.
Today's dare, Determine to guard your mate's secrets (unless they are dangerous to them or to you) and to pray for them. Talk with your spouse, and resolve to demonstrate love in spite of these issues. Really listen to them when they share personal thoughts and struggles with you. Make them feel safe., How much of an effort is it for you to hold back from saying something, critical or otherwise? What have you learned about your spouse today, simply from listening?, I am my beloved's and my beloved is mine. (Songs of Solomon 6:3)
How blessed is the man who finds wisdom, and the ma who gains understanding. - Proverbs 3:13
We enjoy discovering as much as we can about the things we truly care about
It's fine, of course, to have outside interests and to be knowledgeable about certain things. But this is where love would ask the question, "How much do you know about your mate?", When a man is trying to win the heart of a woman, he studies her, This is also true in many cases for women, who start of admiring and building respect for the man they desire to be with, There are still hidden things to discover about your spouse, If the amount you studied your spouse before marriage were equal to a high school diploma, then you should continue to learn about your mate until you gain a "college degree," a "master's degree," and ultimately a "doctorate degree." Think of it as a lifelong journey that draws your heart ever closer to your mate., Do you know his or her greatest hopes and dreams?, Do you fully understand how they prefer to give and receive love?, Do you know what your spouse's greatest fears are and why they struggle with them?
Differences-even the ones that are relatively insignificant-can be the cause of many fights and conflicts in your marriage. That's because, as the Bible says, we tend to "revile" those things we don't understand (Jude 10), There are reasons for his or her tastes and preferences, Each element of who he is, how he thinks, and what he's like is couched in a set of guiding principles, which often makes sense only to the person who holds them, It's worth the time it will take to study why they are the way they are, If you miss the level of intimacy you once shared with your spouse, one of the best ways to unlock their heart again is by making a commitment to know them, Listen, Ask God for discernment, "By wisdom, a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches" (Proverbs 24:3-4), There is a depth of beauty and meaning inside your wife or husband that will amaze you as you discover more of it, Make him or her your chosen field of study, and you will fill your home with the kind of riches only love can provide
Today's dare, Prepare a special dinner at home, just for the two of you. The dinner can be as nice as you prefer. Focus this time on getting to know your spouse better, perhaps in areas you've rarely talked about. Determine to make it an enjoyable evening for you and your mate., What did you learn about your spouse that you didn't know before? How could you continue this process of discovery in other ways, at other times? What were some of the moments that made this evening memorable?, Acquire wisdom; and with all your acquiring, get understanding. (Proverbs 4:7)
Let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. - 1 John 4:7
The Love Dare starts with a secret. And though it's been an unspoken element throughout each day, you've likely grown more and more suspicious of it all the time., The secret is this: you cannot manufacture unconditional love (or agape love) out of your own heart. It's impossible. It's beyond your capabilities. It's beyond all our capabilities., Sincerely loving someone unselfishly and unconditional is another matter altogether, It's something only God can do, Still-you might not believe that, How many times has your love proven incapable of controlling your anger?, How many times has your love motivated you to forgive or brought a peaceable end to an ongoing argument?, If you're not right with God, you can't truly love your spouse because He is the Source of that love, The hard news is this: love that is able to withstand every pressure is out of your reach, as long as you're only looking within yourself to find it. You need someone who can give you that kind of love., Only those who have allowed him into their heart through faith in His Son, Jesus-only those who have received the Spirit of Christ through belief in His death and resurrection-are able to tap into love's real power, "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you" (John 15:7), "know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God" (Ephesians 3:19 NKJV), You may be realizing for the first time that you, too, have broken God's commands, and that your guilt will keep you from knowing Him. But Scripture says that if you repent by turning away from your sin and turning to God, He is willing to forgive you because of the sacrifice His Son made on the cross. He is pursuing you, not to enslave you but to free you, so you can receive His love and forgiveness. Then you can share it with the one you've been called most specifically to love.
Today's dare, Look back over the dares from previous days. Were there some that seemed impossible to you? Have you realized your need for God to change your heart and to give you the ability to love? Ask Him to show you where you stand with Him, and ask for the strength and grace to settle your eternal destination., What do you believe God is saying to you? Is there a stirring in your heart? What decision have you made in response to this?, This is impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. - Romans 5:6
Jesus has come "to seek and to save" you (Luke 19:10), Maybe you've never done this, Maybe you've did it years ago, Love like this cannot be fully understood, Nor can love like this be earned, But it must be received, "...for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (Romans 10:9-10), He was willing to love you even though you didn't deserve it, even even you didn't love back. He was able to see all your flaws and imperfections and still choose to love you. His love made the greatest sacrifice to meet your greatest need. As a result, you are able (by His grace) to walk in the fullness and blessing of His love. Now and forever., When you have received this new life and love as your own, you are free to love in ways you've never been capable before
The Bible says we are sinful from birth, from the moment we arrive, "...He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross" (Philippians 2:6-8), By His death [Jesus], He made invalid the very idea that you are unloved and devalued. If you ever feel that way, you're not looking at the cross. He proved His love for you there.
Today's dare, Dare to take God at his word. Dare to trust Jesus Christ for salvation. Dare to pray, "Lord Jesus, I'm a sinner. But you have shown your love for me by dying to forgive my sins, and you have proven your power to save me from death by your resurrections. Lord, change my heart, and save me by your grace.", Write about what this experience has been like for you. Even if you are only renewing your commitment to receive and express His love, what has He shown you today?, In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them. (Isaiah 63:9)
The Lord will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire. - Isaiah 58:11
If you've received Him by faith and have turned your life over to Him to manage and lead, then His Holy Spirit is renewing your heart. His wisdom, grace, and power can now be released into everything you do. Including, not the least, your marriage.
You need God every single day, He alone can satisfy, even when all else fails you, There are needs in your life only God can fully satisfy. Though your husband or wife is able to complete some of these requirements-at least now and then-only God is able to do it all. Your need for love. Your need for acceptance. Your need for joy. It's time to stop expecting somebody or something to keep you functioning and fulfilled on a non-stop basis. Only God can do that as you learn to depend on Him. But He wants to do it His way. "My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:19), He's the only One in your life that can never change. His faithfulness, His truth, and His promises to His children will always remain. That's why you need to seek him every day., When we are seeking Him first, loving Him first, making our relationship with Him top priority, He promises to supply us with what we really need-which, actually, is all it really takes to satisfy us., God is your everyday supply. Of everything you need.
Today's dare, Be intentional today about making a time to pray and read your Bible. Try reading a chapter out of proverbs each day (there are thirty-one-a full month's supply), or reading a chapter in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). As you do, immerse yourself in the love and promises God has for you. This will add to your growth as you walk with Him., How do you think spending time daily with God will change your situation and perspective? How can you make Him a bigger part of your day?, You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing. (Psalm 145:16)
I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. - Hosea 2:20
As Christians, love is the basis of our whole identity
If love is what we were created to share, what do you do when your love is rejected?, The account of the prophet Hosea is one of the most remarkable in the Bible, Jesus called us to this kind of love in the passage known as the Sermon on the Mount. He said to "love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27-28), If love is to be like His, it must love even when its overtures are returned unwanted. And for your love to be like that, it must be His love to begin with., You can give undeserved love to your spouse because God gave undeserved love to you-repeatedly, enduringly. Love is often expressed the most to those who deserve it the least.
Today's dare, Love is a choice, not a feeling. It is an initiated action, not a knee-jerk reaction. Choose today to be committed to love even if your spouse has lost most of their interest in receiving it. Say to them today in words similar to these, "I love you, period. I choose to love you even if you don't love me in return.", Why is this kind of love impossible without the love of Christ beating in your heart? How does His presence within you enable you to love, even when it's primarily one-sided?, I have chosen the faithful way. (Psalm 119:30)
[Love] always protects. - 1 Corinthians 13:7
When you think about what you want your marriage to be like, the furthest thing from your mind is a battleground, However, there are some battles you should be more than willing to fight. These are battles that pertain to protecting your spouse., Your marriage has enemies out there, It's a battle you must wage to protect your marriage-when love puts on armor and picks up a sword to defend its own. Your mate and your marriage need your constant protection., Harmful influences, Are you allowing certain habits to poison your home?, Internet and television can be productive and enjoyable additions to your life, but they can also bring in destructive content and drain away precious hours from your family, The same thing goes for work schedules that keep you separated from each other for unhealthy amounts of time, Unhealthy relationships, Anyone who undermines your marriage does not deserve to be given the title of "friend", You must be on guard at all times from allowing opposite-sex relationships at work, the gym, or even the church to draw you emotionally away from the one to whom you've already given your heart, Shame, You need to protect your wife or husband's vulnerability by never speaking negatively about them in public, Love hides the fault of others, Parasites, Anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage, Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present. If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart. If you don't, it will destroy you.
Wives, You have a role as protector in your marriage, You must guard your heart from being led away through novels, magazines, and other forms of entertainment that blur your perception of reality and put unfair expectations on your husband, Do your part in helping him feel strong
Men, You are the head of your home, You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage, This is no small assignment
Today's dare, Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that's stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse., What did you throw out first? Are there others that need to go as well? What do you hope the removal of these things will do for you, your marriage, and your relationship with God?, You will be restored if you remove unrighteousness far from your heart. (Job 22:23)
The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. - 1 John 2:17
From eyes to heart to action. And then follows shame and regret.
The bible goes on to say that, having the basics of food and clothing, we should be "content." And Jesus promised these two things would always be provided to God's children (Matthew 6:25-33)., God's blessings, however, go so far beyond these fundamental needs, we could rightly say that we want for nothing, Like Adam and Eve, we still want more, Once our eyes are captured by curiosity, our hearts become entangled, We can also lust after possessions or power or prideful ambition
Lust is in opposition to love. It means to set your heart and passions on something forbidden. And for a believer it's the first step out of a fellowship with the Lord and with others. That's because every object of your lust represents the beginnings of a lie. This person or thing that seems to promise sheer satisfaction is more like a bottomless pit of unmet longings.
Lust always breeds more lust, Anger, Numbs heart
It's time to expose lust for what it really is-a misguided thirst for satisfaction that only God can fulfill
Focus on being grateful for everything God has already given you rather than choosing discontentment, You'll find yourself so full on what He provides, you won't be hungry anymore for the junk food of lust, Set your eyes and heart on your spouse
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15)., Lust is the best this world has to offer, Love offers you the best life in this world
Today's dare, End it now. Identify every object of lust in your life and remove it. Single out every lie you've swallowed in pursuing forbidden pleasure and reject it. Lust cannot be allowed to live in a back bedroom. It must be killed and destroyed-today-and replaced with the sure promises of God and a heart filled with his perfect love., What did you identify as an area of lust? What has this pursuit cost you over time? How has it led you away from the person you want to be with? Write about your new commitment to seek Him-and to seek your spouse-rather than seeking after foolish desires., Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil. (1 Peter 2:16)
What I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did it for your sakes in the presence of Christ. - 2 Corinthians 2:10
Counselors and ministers who deal with broken couples on a regular basis will tell you that this is the most complex problem of all [forgiving], a rupture that is often the last to be repaired
"My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart" (Matthew 18:35)
Your unforgiveness, anger, and bitterness have made a prisoner of you, Your freedom is now dependent on your forgiveness, It doesn't clear their record with God, When you forgive another person, you're not turning them loose. You're just turning them over to God, who can be counted on to deal with them His way, You're saving yourself the trouble of scripting any more arguments or trying to prevail in this situation, "Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, 'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay', says the Lord" (Romans 12:19)
You know it [when you forgive] when the thought of their name or the sight of their face-rather than causing your blood to boil-causes you to feel sorry for them instead, to pity them, to genuinely hope they get this turned around
Great marriages are not created by people who never hurt each other, only by people who choose to keep "no record of wrongs" (1 Corinthians 13:5)
Today's dare, Whatever you haven't forgiven in your mate, forgive it today. Let it go. Just as we ask Jesus to "forgive us our debts" each day, we must ask Him to help us "forgive our debtors" each day as well. Unforgiveness has been keeping you and your spouse in prison too long. Say from your heart, "I choose to forgive.", What did you forgive your spouse for today? How long have you been carrying the weight of it? What are the possibilities now that you've released this matter to God?, Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:24)
When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. - Romans 2:1 HCSB
Personal responsibility, It's something we all agree others should have, but we struggle to maintain it ourselves, We are so quick to justify our motives. So quick to deflect criticism. So quick to find fault-especially with our spouse, who is always the easiest one to blame., When love takes responsibility for its actions, it's not to prove how noble you've been but rather to admit how much further you have to go, Are you taking responsibility for this person you chose for yourself as the love of your life? How deliberate are you about making sure your spouse's needs are met? Or are you only concerned with your mate fulfilling yours? Love calls us to take responsibility for our partner in marriage. To love them. To honor them. To cherish them., Are you taking responsibility for your own faults?, The problem is, to do it sincerely you must swallow your pride and seek forgiveness regardless of how your spouse responds, Ask God to show you where you have failed in your responsibility, then get right with Him first. Once you've done that, you need to get right with your spouse., In order to walk with God and to keep His favor, you must stay clean before Him
Today's dare, Take time to pray through your areas of wrongdoing. Ask for God's forgiveness, then humble yourself enough to admit them to your spouse. Do it sincerely and truthfully. Ask your spouse for forgiveness as well. No matter how they respond, make sure you cover your responsibility in love. Even if they respond with criticism, accept it by receiving it as counsel., What does your mate need to see in order to believe that your confession was more than just words?, Each one must examine his own work...in regard to himself alone. (Galatians 6:4)
Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in You. - Psalm 25:20
You must choose to live by encouragement rather than by expectations, The higher you expectations, the more likely your spouse will fail you and cause you frustration, Divorce is nearly inevitable when people refuse to allow their spouses to be human, Love puts the focus on personal responsibility and improving yourself rather than on demanding more from others
It takes both of you doing everything you can to make marriage work, During the early days of marriage, you may have been more inclined to listen and make subtle changes. But as the years go by, your spouse's disapproval only tends to entrench you. Rather than making you want to correct things, it makes you want to dig in even deeper., You must realize that marriage is a relationship to be enjoyed and savored along the way. It's a unique friendship designed by God Himself where two people live together in flawed imperfection but deal with it by encouraging each other, not discouraging them., Make a commitment to daily let go of unrealistic expectations and become your spouse's greatest encourager. And the person they're created by God to be will begin to emerge with new confidence and love for you.
Today's dare, Eliminate the poison of unrealistic expectations in your home. Think of one area where your spouse has told you you're expecting too much, and tell them you're sorry for being so hard on them about it. Promise them you'll seek to understand, and assure them of your unconditional love., When you place high expectations on your spouse that they don't feel internally motivated to attain, what does that tell you about yourself? What are some better ways to deal with these disconnects?, Let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. (Hebrews 10:24)
He laid down His life for us. We should also lay down our lives for our brothers. - 1 John 3:16 HCSB
Love doesn't have to be jarred awake by your mate's obvious signs of distress. Before worries and troubles have begun to bury them, love has already gone into action mode. It sees the weight beginning to pile up and it steps in to help. That's because love wants you to be sensitive to your spouse., Love makes sacrifices, "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you have Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me" (Matthew 25:35-36), Instead of sitting around upset that they're not treating you the way you think they should, let love pick you up out of your self-pity and turn your attention to their needs, When your mate is overwhelmed and under the gun, love calls you to set aside what seems so essential in your own life to help, even if it's merely the gift of a listening ear, Often all they really need is just to talk this situation out. They need to see in your two attentive eyes that you truly care about what this is costing them, and you're serious about helping them seek answers. They need you to pray with them about what to do, and then keep following up to see how it's going., When you help them, you are also helping yourself, Lives that have been raised from death by Jesus' sacrifice should be ready and willing to make daily sacrifices to meet the needs of others, When you don't notice ahead of time and must be told what's happening, love responds to the heart of the problem, Love shoes compassion rather than becoming defensive
Today's dare, What is one of the greatest needs in your spouse's life right now? Is there a need you could lift from their shoulders today by a daring act of sacrifice on your part? Whether the need is big or small, purpose to do what you can to meet the need., How much of your mate's stress is caused by your lack of concern or initiative? When you expressed a desire to help, how did they receive it? Are there other needs you could meet?, Bear one another's burdens, thereby fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Reder service with a good attitude, as to the Lord and not to men. - Ephesians 6:7 HCSB
It doesn't take much experience to discover that your mate will not always motivate your love
The love between a husband and wife should have one chief objective: honoring the Lord with devotion and sincerity, Being able to wake up knowing that God is your source and supply-not just of your own needs but also those of your spouse-changes your whole reason for interacting with your mate, No longer is it this imperfect person who decides how much love you'll show, but rather it's your omni-perfect God who can use even a flawed person like yourself to bestow loving favor on another, Only love that is lifted up as an offering to God-returned to Him in gratitude for all He's done-is able to sustain itself when all other reasons have lost their ability to energize us, Love that has God as its primary focus is unlimited in the heights it can attain
Love her "as to the Lord"
Love him anyway. "As to the Lord."
Today's dare, Before you see your spouse again today, pray for them by name and for their needs. Whether it comes easy for you or not, say "I love you," then express love to them in some tangible way. Go to God in prayer again, thanking him for giving you the privilege of loving this one special person-unconditionally, the way he loves both of you., How will this change of motivation affect your relationship and reactions? What does this inspire you to do? What does it inspire you to stop doing?, As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. (Joshua 24:15)
Father, keep them in Your name, the name which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We are. - John 17:11
Unity. Togetherness. Oneness., He continues to speak through it today without ever going off-message, All three are in perfect oneness of mind and purpose, They serve each other, love each other, and honor each other. Though equal, they rejoice when the other is praised. Though distinct, they are one, indivisible., He has chosen to let us experience an aspect of it, In the relationship of husband and wife, two distinct individuals are spiritually united into "one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). And what God has joined together, let man not separate" (Mark 10:9 NIV)., Love this one who is as much a part of your body as you are. Serve this one whose needs cannot be separated from your own. Honor this one who, when raised upon the pedestal of your love, raises you up too in the eyes of God, all at the same time., Husband - What would happen in your marriage if you devoted yourself to loving, honoring, and serving your wife in all things? What if you determined that the preservation of your oneness with this woman was worth every sacrifice and expression of love you could make? What would change in your home if you took that approach to your relationship on a daily basis?, Wife - What would happen if you made it your mission to do everything possible to promote togetherness of heart with your husband? What if every threat to your unity was treated as a poison, a cancer, an enemy to be eliminated by love, humility, and selflessness? What would your marriage become if you were never again willing to see your oneness torn apart?
Today's dare, Isolate one area of division in your marriage, and look on today as a fresh opportunity to pray about it. Ask the Lord to reveal anything in your own heart that is threatening oneness with your spouse. Pray that he would do the same for them. And if appropriate, discuss this matter openly, seeking God for unity., Did the Lord open your eyes to anything new that might be giving fuel to this point of disagreement? How do you intend to respond? What do you hope to see God do in your spouse as well?, The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! (Deuteronomy 6:4)
A man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. - Genesis 2:24
"Leaving", You are breaking a natural tie, Whether through unhealthy dependence or inner struggles over the empty nest, parents don't always take their share of this responsibility. In such cases, the grown child has to make "leaving" a courageous choice of his own. And far too often, this break is not made in the right way., Do either of your parents continue to create problems within your home-perhaps without their even knowing it?, What needs to happen to put a stop to this before it creates too wide of a division in your marriage?, Only in oneness can you become all that God means for you to be
"Cleaving", Carries the idea of catching someone by pursuit, clinging to them as your new rock of refuge and saftey, This man is now the spiritual leader of your new home, tasked with the responsibility of loving you "just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25), This woman is now one in union with you, called to "see to it that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5:33)
As a result of this essential process, you are now free to become everything God meant when He declared you "one flesh", You are able to achieve oneness in your decision making, even when you begin from differing views, You are able to achieve oneness in your priorities, even though you've come together from backgrounds that could hardly be more difficult, You are able to achieve oneness in your sexual affections toward each other, even if both of you have memories of impurity in your pre-marital past
It's hard-extremely hard-when the pursuit of oneness is basically one-sided, Your spouse may not be interested at all in recapturing the unity you had at first, Even if there is some desire on his or her part, there may still be issues between you that are nowhere close to being resolved
Today's dare, Is there a "leaving" issue you haven't been brave enough to conquer yet? Confess it to your spouse today, and resolve to make it right. The oneness of your marriage is dependent upon it. Follow this with a commitment to your spouse and to God to make your marriage the top priority over every other human relationship, Has this been a hard thing for you to deal with? How has it affected your relationship? If the worse offender in this area is your spouse (with your in-laws), how can you lovingly move this toward a better situation?, May they all be one, as You, are in Me and I am in You. (John 17:21 HCSB)
The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. - 1 Corinthians 7:3
In reality, however, the Bible has a great deal to say about sex and the blessing it can be for both husband and wife, It's boundaries and restrictions are God's ways of keeping our sexual experiences at a level far beyond any of those advertised on television or in the movies, It's all part of celebrating what God has given, becoming one with our mate while simultaneously pursuing purity and holiness, [Songs of Solomon] Expresses how honesty and understanding in sexual matters lead to a life of confident love together
"the marriage bed is to be undefiled" (Hebrews 13:4), We are weak. And when this legitimate need goes unmet-when its treated as being selfish and demanding by the other-our hearts are subject to being drawn away from marriage, tempted to fulfill this longing somewhere else, some other way., To counteract this tendency, God established marriage with a "one flesh" mentality. "The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does" (1 Corinthians 7:4)
Sex is not to be used as a bargaining chip
If you let your mate know-by words, actions, or actions-that sex needn't be any more than you want it to be, you rob from them a sense of honor and endearment that has been set in place by biblical mandate. You violate the "one flesh" unity of marriage.
So whether you perceive yourself as being on the deprived end, or you would admit that you are the one depriving the other, know that God's plan for you is to meet in the middle and come to a place of agreement, The path to getting there will not be accomplished by sulking, arguing, or demanding, Patience, kindness, selflessness, thoughtfulness, protection, honor, forgiveness-will play a role in renewing your sexual intimacy
Today's dare, If at all possible, try to initiate sex with your husband or wife today. Do this in a way that honors what your spouse has told you (or implied to you) about what they need from you sexually. Ask God to make this enjoyable for both of you as will as a path to greater intimacy., Was this a satisfying experience for you? If it didn't turn out the way you'd hoped, what do you think is complicating matters? Have you committed this to prayer? If it was a true blessing for both of you, what can you learn from this for the future?, How beautiful and how delightful you are, my love. (Song of Solomon 7:6)
If two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? - Ecclesiates 4:11
God originated the human race with a male and a female-two similar but complementary designs meant to function in harmony, "Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the other one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up" (Ecclesiates 4:9,10)., It's like your two hands, which don't just coexist together but multiply the effectiveness of the other. In order to do what they do, neither is quite complete without the other.
Although our differences can frequently be the source of misunderstanding and conflict, they have been created by God and can be ongoing blessings if we respect them, When we learn to accept these distinctions in our mate, we can bypass criticism and go straight to helping and appreciating one another, Some can't seem to get past their partner's differences. And they suffer many wasted opportunities as a result. They don't take advantage of the uniqueness that makes each of them more effective when including the other., One such example from the Bible is Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor who presided over the trial of Jesus. Unaware of who Christ was and against his better judgment, he allowed the crowd to influence him into crucifying Jesus., God made wives to complete their husbands, and He gives them insight that in many cases is kept from their men. If this discernment is ignored, it is often to the detriment of the man making the decision.
Today's dare, Recognize that your spouse is integral t your future success. Let them know today that you desire to include them in your upcoming decisions, and that you need their perspective and counsel. If you have ignored their input in the past, admit your oversight and ask them to forgive you., What are some upcoming decisions you can make together? What did you learn today about the role of your mate?, Put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:14)
[Love] does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. - 1 Corinthians 13:6
From the moment you close your Bible in the morning, nearly everything else you'll encounter throughout the day will be luring you away from its truths, They'll say a lot of things, We can begin valuing what everybody else values and thinking the way everybody else does
The meaning of "real life" changes dramatically when we understand that God's Word is the ultimate expression of what real life is
You are one of the most influential people in your spouse's life, Love rejoices most in the things that please God. When your mate is growing in Christian character, persevering in faith, seeking purity, and embracing roles of giving and service-becoming spiritually responsible in your home-the Bible says we should be celebrating it., "We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure" (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4)
Love does not rejoice in unrighteousness
Love rejoices in the truth
Today's dare, Find a specific, recent example when your spouse demonstrated Christian character in a noticeable way. Verbally commend them for this at some point today., What example did you choose to recognize? How many other ways could you celebrate their growth in godliness? How could you encourage them to persevere in it?, I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. (Psalm 101:2)
Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed. - Proverbs 15:22 NIV
The secret to the sequoia is also a key to maintaining a strong, healthy marriage, A couple that faces problems alone is more likely to fall apart during tough times, The ones who interlock their lives in a network of other strong marriages radically increase their chances of surviving the fiercest of storms, It is crucial that a husband and wife pursue godly advice, healthy friendships, and experienced mentors
Everyone needs counsel throughout life, Wise people constantly seek it and gladly receive, Fools never ask for it and then ignore it when it's given, It is vital that you invite strong couples to share the wisdom they have gained through their own successes and failures, Why not cross the bridges others have built?, Wisdom is more valuable than gold, Good marriage mentors warn you before you make a bad decision. They encourage you when you are ready to give up. And they cheer you on as you reach new levels of intimacy in your marriage., If your marriage is hanging by a thread or already heading for a divorce, then you need to stop everything and pursue a solid counseling as quickly as possible. Call a pastor, a Biblebelieving counselor, or a marriage ministry today. As awkward as it may initially be to open up your life to a stranger, your marriage is worth every second spent and every sacrifice you will make for it.
Today's dare, Find a marriage mentor-someone who is a strong christian and who will be honest and loving with you. If you feel that counseling is needed, then take the first step to set up an appointment. During this process, ask God to direct your decisions and discernment., Who did you choose? Why did you select this person? What do you hope to learn from them?, In abundance of counselors there is victory. (Proverbs 11:14)
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. - Psalm 119:105
As a Christian, you're not left alone to try grasping the major themes and deep meanings of the Bible, The Holy Spirit, who now lives in your heart by way of salvation, is an illuminator of truth, Because of His internal lamp, the Scriptures are now yours to read, absorb, comprehend, and live by, Be in it, Stay under it, Live it
Jesus talked about people who built their lives on sand-their own logic, their best guesses, the latest reasoning. When the storms of life begin to blow (which they always will), foundations of sand will only result in total disaster. Their houses may light up and look nice for a while, but they are tragedies waiting to happen. Ultimately they collapse., If you are serious about establishing strategies for life based on God's way of doing things, He will guide you to make connections between what you're reading and how it applies, Every aspect of your life that you submit to, God's principles will grow stronger and more long-lasting over time, Any part you withhold from Him, choosing instead to try your own hand at it, will weaken and eventually fail when the storms of life hit you. It may, in fact, be the one area that hastens to downfall of your home and marriage, Wise couples build their houses on the rock of God's Word, They've seen what sand can do, They know how it feels when their footing gets soft and the foundation gives way
Today's dare, Commit to reading the bible every day. Find a devotional book or other resource that will give you some guidance. If your spouse is open to it, see if they will commit to daily Bible reading with you. Begin submitting each area of your life to its guidance and start building on the rock., What parts of your life are in the greatest need of God's counsel? Where do you feel he most susceptible to failure? What are you asking God to show you through His Word?, Whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction. (Romans 15:4)
If two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father. - Matthew 18:19
Prayer is a key ingredient in marital longevity and leads to a heightened sense of sexual intimacy, The unity that grows between a man and woman who regularly pray together forms an intense and powerful connection, Within the sanctuary of your marriage, praying together can work wonders on every level of your relationship, Praying for your spouse leads your heart to care more deeply about them, When you and your spouse are not getting along and can't get past a particular argument, or sticking point, you can call a time out-drop your weapons, and go with your partner into emergency prayer. It should become your automatic reflex action when you don't know what else to do., Two separate notes, played one at a time, sound different. They're opposed to each other. But play them at the same time-in agreement-and they can create a pleasing sense of harmony. Together they give a fuller, more complete sound than either of them can make on its own.
God wants you to engage with Him-invites you, in fact-and He will grow you as you take it seriously and push past those times when you don't know what to say
Today's dare, Ask your spouse if you can begin praying together. Talk about the best time to do this, whether it's in the morning, your lunch hour, or before bedtime. Use this time to commit your concerns, disagreements, and needs before the Lord. Don't forget to thank Him for His provision and blessing. Even if your spouse refuses to do this, resolve to spend this daily time in prayer yourself., What can you do to help your mate be willing for the two of you to begin praying together? If you agreed to pray together, what was it like? What did you learn from it?, In the morning my prayer comes before You. (Psalm 88:13)
Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. - Psalm 37:4
Common sense tells us we can't give our wife or husband everything they might like, Our budgets and account balances tell us we probably couldn't afford it anyway. And if we could, it might not be good for us. Or for them., Perhaps you've let "no" become too quick a response, What if instead of dismissing the thought, you did your best to honor it?, What might happen if the one thing they said you'd never do for them became the next thing they did?
Love sometimes needs to be extravagant
He's [Jesus] your model. He's the One your love is designed to imitate. Though you weren't a likely candidate for His love, He gave it anyway. He paid the price., Not everything your spouse wants has a hefty price tag, Not everything he or she desires can be bought with money
Dreams and desires come in all shapes and sizes. But love takes careful notice of each one., Love calls you to listen to what your mate is saying and hoping for, Love calls you to remember the things that are unique to your relationship, the pleasures and enjoyments that bring a smile to the other's face, Love calls you to give when it would be a lot more convenient to wait, And love calls you to daydream about these opportunities so regularly that their desires become yours as well
What is something your spouse would really, really love?
Today's dare, Ask yourself what your mate would want if it was obtainable. Commit this to prayer, and start mapping out a plan for meeting some (if not all) of their desires, to whatever level you possibly can., What has made you resistant to fulfilling your mate's desires in the past? How would it change your relationship if they knew their dreams were a priority to you? What desires are you attempting to meet?, God is able to make all grace around you. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Love never fails. - 1 Corinthians 13:8
Love never fails, Though threatened, it keeps pursuing. Though challenged, it keeps moving forward. Though mistreated and rejected, it refuses to give up, If love is really love, it doesn't waffle when it's not received the way you want it to be. If love can be told to quit loving, then it's not really love. Love that is from God is unending, unstoppable. If the object of its affection doesn't choose to receive it, love keeps giving anyway., Each quality of love outlined in this book is based on the love of God, captured and expressed in the Word of God. The unchanging Word of God. No challenge or circumstance can occur that will ever put an expiration date on Him or His love. Therefore, your love-made of the same substance-bears the same, unchanging characteristics., You accept this one man or woman as God's special gift to you, and you promise to love them until death
Today's dare, Spend time in personal prayer, then write a letter of commitment and resolve to your spouse. Include why you are committing to this marriage until death, and that you have purposed to love them no matter what. Leave it in a place that your mate will find it., What were some of the hesitations you had in writing this letter? How do you expect your spouse to respond to it? How did God help you in writing it, and what did the process teach you about yourself?, He delights in unchanging love. (Micah 7:18)
Where you go, I will go, and where you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God. - Ruth 1:16
As you view your relationship from this point on, we challenge you to consider it a covenant instead of a contract, Seeing your marriage as a contract is like saying to your spouse, "I take you for me and we'll see if things work out.", Realizing it as a covenant changes it to say, "I give myself to you and commit to this marriage for life."
The time is now, man or woman of God, to renew your covenant of love in all sincerity and surrender. Love is too holy a treasure to trade in for another, and too powerful a bond to be broken without dire consequences. Fasten your love afresh on this the Lord has given you to cherish, prize, and honor. Your life together is before you. Dare to take hold of it and never let go. We dare you.
Today's dare, Write out a renewal of your vows and place them in your home. Perhaps, if appropriate, you could make arrangements to formally renew your wedding vows before a minister and with family present. Make it a living testament to the value of marriage in God's eyes and the high honor of being one with your mate., What has God revealed to you during the Love Dare? How have your views of your marriage changed? How committed are you to God and to your spouse? Who can you share this with as a testimony?, He has remembered His covenant forever? (Psalm 105:8)
Stress, Relational causes: arguing, division, and bitterness, Excessive causes: overworking, overplaying, and overspending, Deficiencies: not getting enough rest, nutrition, or exercise
Selfishness, Wears other masks, Lust, for example, is the result of being ungrateful for what you have and choosing to covet or burn with passion for something that is forbidden, Bitterness takes root when you respond in a judgmental way and refuse to work through your anger, Greed for more money and possessions will frustrate you with unfulfilled desires, Pride leads you to act harshly in order to protect your ego and reputation
1 Corinthians 13 (The Message), If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love. Love never gives up. Love cares more for others than for self. Love doesn't want what it doesn't have. Love doesn't strut, doesn't have a swelled head, doesn't force itself on others, isn't always "me first," doesn't fly off the handle, doesn't keep score of the sins of others, doesn't revel when others grovel, takes pleasure in the flowering of truth, puts up with anything, trusts God always, always looks for the best, never looks back, but keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good. We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us! But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. - James 5:16 NIV
The Locks: Ten things that block prayer, 1. Praying without knowing God through Jesus, 2. Praying from an unrepentant heart, 3. Praying for show, 4. Praying repetitive, empty words, 5. Prayers not prayed, 6. Praying with a lustful heart, 7. Praying while mistreating your spouse, 8. Praying while ignoring the poor, 9. Praying with bitterness in your heart toward someone, 10. Praying with a faithless heart
They Keys: Ten things that make prayer effective, 1. Praying by asking, seeking, and knocking, 2. Praying in faith, 3. Praying in secret, 4. Praying according to God's will, 5. Praying in Jesus' name, 6. Praying in agreement with other beleivers, 7. Praying while fasting, 8. Praying from an obedient life, 9. Praying while abiding in Christ and his word, 10. Praying while delighting in the Lord
Either on a date or during a private conversation, try using the questions below to learn more about the heart of your spouse. Allow the topics to raise additional questions that you may want to explore, but keep the mood and focus positive. Listen more than you talk.
Personal, What is your greatest hope or dream?, What do you enjoy the most about your life right now?, What do you enjoy the least about your life right now?, What would your dream job be if you could do anything and get paid for it?, What are some things you've always wanted to do but haven't had the opportunity yet?, What three things would you like to do before the next year passes?, Who do you feel the most "safe" being with? Why?, If you could have lunch with anyone in the world, who would it be and why?, When was the last time you felt filled with joy?, If you had to give away a million dollars, who would you give it to?
Marital, What are three things that I do that you really like?, What are three things I do that drive you crazy?, What have I done in the past that made you feel loved?, What have I done in the past that made you feel unappreciated?, What three things can I work on?, Of the following things, what would make you feel most loved?, Having your body massaged and caressed for an hour, Sitting and talking for an hour about your favorite subject, Having help around the house for an afternoon, Receiving a very nice gift, Hearing encouragement about how appreciated you are, What things in the past do you wish could be erased from ever happening?, What is the next major decision that you think God would want us to make as a couple?, What would you like your life to look like five years from now?, What words would you like to hear from me more often?
Offer encouragement and a listening ear. Refuse to allow this to become an argument or time for you to criticize. Let this be a time for your mate to express themselves.
Let this proclamation help you to rightly approach the Word of God, The Bible is the Word of God, It is holy, inerrant, infallible, and completely authoritative (Proverbs 30:5-6, John 17:17, Psalm 119:89), It is profitable for teaching, reproving, correcting, and training me in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16), It matures and equips me to be ready for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17), It is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path (Psalm 119:105), It makes me wiser than me enemies (Psalm 119:97-100), It brings me stability during the storms of my life (Matthew 7:24-27), If I believe its truth, I will be set free (John 8:32), If I hide it in my heart, I will be protected in times of temptation (Psalm 199:11), If I continue in it, I will become a true disciple (John 8:31), If I meditate on it, I will become successful (Joshua 1:8), If I keep it, I will be rewarded and my love perfected (Psalm 19:7-11, 1 John 2:5), It is the living, powerful, discerning Word of God (Hebrews 4:12), It is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), It is sweeter than honey and more desirable than gold (Psalm 19:10), It is indestructible and forever settled in Heaven (2 Corinthians 13:7-8, Psalm 119:89), It is absolutely true with no mixture of error (John 17:17, Titus 1:2), It is absolutely true about God (Romans 3:4, Romans 16:25, 27, Colossians 1), It is absolutely true about man (Jeremiah 17:9, Psalm 8:4-6), It is absolutely true about sin (Romans 3:23), It is absolutely true about salvation (Acts 4:12, Romans 10:9), It is absolutely true about Heaven and Hell (Revelation 21:8, Psalm 119:89)
What is the heart?, Your identity, Your center, Your headquarters
What's wrong with following my heart?, It's foolish, It's unreliable, It's corrupt
Should I ever follow my heart?
Why is following my heart not enough?
How do I lead my heart?, Check your heart, Guard your heart, Set your heart, Invest your heart