Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Alumni of the Year Awards for Moms

As a stand up comic and humor columnist for moms, I try to use my
over-the-counter-top humor to bring hope and encouragement to moms
trying to cope with the everydayness of life.

For example, after 26 years of motherhood I wonder out loud why
there aren’t more programs for gifted moms, who actually does buy those
whole canned chickens, and why aren’t more people using Diaper Genie
leftovers to weave large area rugs? I attempt to crank up the spin cycle on my
dryer and life to help moms cope with too much laundry, raising preschoolers
(on 12 hours of sleep per year), surviving teenagers, pleasing relatives,
understanding spouses, and the thousand other challenges.

I also wonder why the Institutions of Higher Learning of this fine land
never award their "Alumni of the Year" award to a mom? When is the
last time the University of Michigan announced, "Our
Alumni of the Year
award" goes to Nancy Barbat for being a loving mom?"

Today all that changes.

This week Momlaughs is going to mail "Alumni of the Year Awards"
(8 1/2 " x 11" paper certificates) to the first 10 moms who leave a comment
at the end of this posting. Each of the ten also need to email me at to give me their address and the name of the
high school, college, or university that they graduated from. And may
I add my own person congratulations to you as you receive this fine

This offer is good until February 27 or until the first 10 posts occur.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Momlaughs Syndicates

Monthly columnist on: - beginning in February '08 - check it out!

Also seen on:

If you would like to have Momlaughs on your online magazine, newspaper or newsletter, please contact us at

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"All I am" by Andrew Moeller, age 4

I am a bowler
I am a walker

I am a son

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

At Last -- An Alternative to Michael Moore -- Me

(Cheryl - Flint Kearsley 1974)

I was raised in Flint, Michigan, home of the famous far-out there movie director and producer Michael Moore. Actually, the right way to put it is Michael Moore was raised in Flint, Michigan, home of the not-so-famous near-in Mother of six Cheryl (Webster) Moeller.

While I haven’t raised all the necessary funding to produce five full length documentaries, once I do, they will serve as an important counter-balance to Michael Moore. Here are my works in progress:

Michael Moore produced Roger and Me, the story of GM closing down car factories in Flint. I plan to produce Roger, Over and Out, the documentary featuring my part in the Citizen’s Band (CB) radio revolution of the 1980’s. My full length movie will feature my over the road trucking years in an 18 wheeler minivan as I hauled the whole neighborhood to soccer practice. It will feature such memorable terms as, “That’s the Big 10-4 good baby, we’ve got a full load diaper here.” It will also feature my children riding their big wheels down the driveway singing, “We’ve got a convoy….”

Michael Moore produced Canadian Bacon, a fictional account of a war with Canada intended to boost a President’s ratings. I plan to produce Canadian Geese, the true story of the giant gray birds that landed on our sidewalks. They stayed all year producing a non-stop slip and slide that the entire block got to enjoy for hours on end. Granted, it was hard getting out the green stains from The Kids Gap overalls, but it was cheaper than a day at the water park.

Michael Moore produced The Big One, criticizing the mass layoffs by corporations even as they made huge profits. I plan to produce The Biggest One, featuring the full screen ultra sound of my nearly ten pound firstborn child just weeks before his delivery. His arrival later produced 26 hours of labor and a massive layoff of pounds, and the new heavy weight champion of the hospital nursery.

Michael Moore produced Sicko, another social commentary scrutinizing our health care system. I plan to produce Sticko, the story of the unfortunate day we looked under the sofa pillows and discovered where four years of fruit roll-ups had disappeared to.

Michael Moore produced Farenheit 911, which makes scandalous accusations against our government. I plan to produce Farenheit 101.6 degrees, the true story of the stomach flu going through our large family which produced scandalous memories of our lunch at McDonald’s. No more needs to be said.

So, Michael Moore, you no longer own Flint. Watch out. I’m coming to a theater near you.

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples - For Better For Worse For Keeps Marriage Conference

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Marriage Conference

Week One:
“We were Meant for Each Other”

1. Can we talk? (10 minutes of group discussion)

“What were the circumstances where you two met?”

“How many things had to line-up just exactly as they did for you two to meet?” (You may wish to go as far back as where you were born, went to school, etc.)

“What part do you think God plays in bringing two people together?”

2. Have you ever thought of it this way? (5 minutes to consider a new perspective on your marriage)

How can I know for sure the person I married was meant for me?

Sometimes couples who are struggling with their marriage began to wonder if they really were intended for each other. To put it another way, “Did I make the right choice when I got married?”

Questions such as these are normal and natural and the doubts are usually temporary in nature and pass on. Now there are clearly situations in the Bible where we are told not to marry certain people (such as in an adulterous affair or where you are a believer and the other person is not). Assuming that’s not the case, let’s look at how you two can know that you were meant for each other.

The place to find this peace of mind is by going back to one of the Bible’s most basic teachings: God is in control of our lives (the technical word is sovereignty). That means nothing happens in life without God’s permission or ultimate say in the matter. Now let’s go to where the Bible speaks directly to the issue of whether you were meant for each other. It’s the story of the creation of the first man and woman. It’s found in Genesis chapter 2, “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and He brought her to the man (verse 22).”

Did you catch that? “The Lord God made a woman from the rib He had taken out of man…” God Himself fashioned, designed, and created the very first wife for the very first husband. The Creator of the Universe created the very first woman exactly with Adam in mind (and vice versa). This brings us to our first growth point: Instead of asking yourself if the two of you were meant for each other, instead three times a day thank God for creating the person you married just as He did. That will allow you to relax and take comfort in the fact that God, in His infinite wisdom and love, designed and fashioned the person you married with you in mind (and vice versa).

This leads us to our second growth point: Whenever you are burdened by doubt that you truly were meant for each other, stop and repeat these simple words, “And God brought her to the man.” It was God who introduced the first couple. It was God who introduced you. He is still bringing people together. Repeat these words each and every time you struggle with doubt and you’ll soon find yourself looking at your mate in a whole way, “So this really is the person God had in mind in me…”

Again, the basic biblical truth behind this prescription for peace of mind is this: God is sovereign. That means He is in complete control of all the events of our lives, including the person you married. Even if you are going through a difficult time in your relationship, as all couples do, you can rest in the unchanging fact Jesus Christ is directing the course of your lives – past, present and future.

3. So where’s that in the Bible? (25 minutes to see what the
Scriptures have to say on the subject)

Principle #1: God in His sovereignty promises to direct our lives.

(Genesis 28: 10-13, 15) “When (Jacob) reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: "I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac…I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you."

(Isaiah 30:21) “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, `This is the way; walk in it.’"

Study Questions:

Who initiates the unexpected encounter between Jacob and God?

What specific promises does God make to Jacob about his future in this dream?

What do these verses say about God directing the course of our lives?

Principle #2: God in His sovereignty is at work even in our disappointments.

(Genesis 29: 22-27) “So Laban brought together all the people of the place and gave a feast. But when evening came, he took his daughter Leah and gave her to Jacob, and Jacob lay with her. And Laban gave his servant girl Zilpah to his daughter as her maidservant. When morning came, there was Leah! So Jacob said to Laban, "What is this you have done to me? I served you for Rachel, didn't I? Why have you deceived me?" Laban replied, "It is not our custom here to give the younger daughter in marriage before the older one. Finish this daughter's bridal week; then we will give you the younger one also, in return for another seven years of work."
(Genesis 50: 19-20) “But Joseph said to them, "Don't be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”
Study Questions:
What is the unexpected turn of events that seems to turn Jacob’s life upside down?

Was this whole situation simply a bad twist of fate or was God still at work?

What do these verses teach us about trusting God even when our marriage relationship disappoints us?

4. So what does this mean for us? (15 minutes to apply what we’ve
learned to our marriage this week)

• The right place to begin to answer the question, “Are we meant for each other?” is with understanding God and His sovereignty. What peace of mind can that bring to you about your marriage now and in the future?
• God designed each of you exactly with the other person in mind and then introduced you to one another. How can this truth help you genuinely accept and value your spouse just as they are?
• God is still at work in even in our disappointments with each another. So do we need to despair or give up when we hit rough spots?

5. Can we pray? (5 minutes to affirm the truths you’ve learned
from the Creator of Marriage)

Pair off with your mate and pray this prayer together: “Dear Heavenly Father, We wish to thank you that from the beginning of time you planned our marriage. You designed each of us so that we would be exactly right for the other person. Thank you that out of the millions and millions of people on this planet, you brought us to each other at exactly the right time and place.

Lord Jesus, there have been times we have been disappointed with each other. We have been tempted to judge one another and even doubt your love for us. We now ask your forgiveness and the forgiveness of each other. We thank you that even during our hard times You have been at work to guide and bless our relationship. We believe that your sovereign plan for our marriage is at work today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives.

Thank you again, Lord, for choosing to bring us together in our marriage. We love You and each other. We know we’re not perfect, but we believe your plan for us is. Thank you.

In Jesus Sovereign Name we pray, Amen.

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Marriage Conference

Week Two:
“We Can Communicate and Enjoy It”

1. Can we talk? (10 minutes of group discussion)

“Do you think men and women communicate exactly the same way? What are some of the subtle differences?”

“What’s the best time for you and your spouse to talk?”

“How can you tell when you’re being listened to and understood?”

2. Have you ever thought of it this way? (5 minutes to read perhaps a new perspective on your marriage)

How can I get my husband to talk to me more?

That’s a question wives have been asking since Adam and Eve moved out of the Garden of Eden. Many wives interpret their husband’s lack of communication as preoccupation, disinterest, or even a lack of love.

The truth is most husbands have little trouble communicating with their wives – if the time and setting is right. Years ago a marriage researcher put into words what discerning couples have always known: men communicate as the by-product of an activity, while women see communication as the activity itself.

For whatever reasons, our Creator designed men and women to communicate differently from one another. Ask your husband to sit down and have a heart to heart conversation after dinner, and chances are he’ll remember the lawn needs mowing. However, offer to go outside and help him in the yard and chances are the two of you will soon be talking more (even over the roar of the mower) than have all week.

The truth is wives often miss golden opportunities for conversation with their husbands because they are disguised as his chores, hobbies, or work. Wouldn’t it be nice if your husband was willing to take you out each evening for a cup of your favorite $4.00 cup of coffee and spend the night in conversation? Unfortunately, that’s not his dream of a night to remember.

However, if you suggest the two of you go for a two mile walk for aerobic exercise, or take on a task he’s interest in such as organizing his tool bench or vacuuming the car, be prepared for a stream of free-flowing conversation and dialogue. That’s because men welcome the chance to talk, but only under the right circumstances. They don’t enjoy the pressure of a one-on-one situation where words are the only thing happening. That by and large is a threatening situation and one they’ll avoid at almost any cost. Don’t misunderstand -- the chores or tasks the two of you may choose as a shared activity should be things you need done as well. The best of all scenarios is finding an activity you both enjoy and setting aside 30 minutes each day to share it together. The result may be a transformation in your ability to communicate with each other.
Notice how Jesus approached men during His earthly ministry. When he first met Peter He challenged him to throw his fishing nets on the other side of the boat. Peter reluctantly agreed but soon experienced an astounding catch and a huge day’s profit. That will get a man’s attention in almost any setting. More important, however, it opened a conversation that changed Peter’s life forever.
The Scriptures tell us, “When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, `Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’ For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken, and so were James and John, the sons of Zebedee, Simon's partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, `Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men.’ So they pulled their boats up on shore, left everything and followed him (Luke 5: 8-11).”
Wives, never underestimate the power of a shared-activity with your husband to open up lines of communication. He has much to say, he only needs the right place and setting to say it. Doing something you both enjoy each day together is the key to connecting with your husband – you can’t afford to miss it.

3. So where’s that in the Bible? (25 minutes to study what the
Scriptures have to say on the subject)

Principle #1: We are to show respect and consideration for each other in the way we communicate.

(Ephesians 4: 29-31) “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”

(James 1:19-21) “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.”

Study Questions:

“When you are arguing are there certain words off-limits according to God’s Word?”

“Who is the Unseen Person always listening to our conversations with one another? What grieves Him?”

“What things should we be quick to do? What should we be slow to do? What spiritual price do we pay when disobey this command?”

Principle #2: When we speak to our wives it should be with love, when we speak to our husbands it should be with respect.

(Ephesians 4:31-33) “`For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”

(Titus 2:2-5) “Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance. Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.”

Study Questions:

“If our marriage is a living model of Christ’s love for His church what does this mean for how we communicate with one another?”

“Why does God command husbands to show love, while He commands wives to show respect? Why doesn’t He command the same for both?”

“What impact does a negative marriage relationship have on the reputation of the Word of God? How can we guard that reputation?”

4. So what does this mean for us? (15 minutes to apply what we’ve
learned to our marriage this week)

• Men view communication as the by-product of an activity, while women see it as the activity itself. What changes can you make to your schedule this week to give you 30 minutes each day in shared activity? What are some activities that you both enjoy?
• In our communication husbands are to convey love while wives are to show respect. Ask each other (perhaps when you’re alone) what words make you feel loved? What words make you feel respected?
• The Bible says we are to learn how to live with each other as husbands and wives that honors God. Are there older couples who have a positive marriage that you could learn from? Would you consider asking them to mentor the two of you?

5. Can we pray? (5 minutes to affirm the truths you’ve learned
from the Creator of Marriage)

Pair off with your mate and pray this prayer together: “Dear Heavenly Father, thank you that you have made us with distinct differences. We commit ourselves to honor those differences rather than resent them. We pledge to spend time together each day doing things we both enjoy so we can experience deeper communication. We ask You to give us the self-discipline to set aside this time daily.

Help us to always remember You are listening to our conversations. We commit ourselves to guarding our words carefully so that we do not grieve Your Holy Spirit. Lord, when we do stumble in what we say, make us quick to admit our wrong and ask forgiveness of the other. We want our words to draw us together, not drive us apart. Help us to continually show love and respect to each other that others might honor Your Word.

We also commit ourselves this day, in obedience to your Word, to be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. Jesus, through your love and power and grace we will live the righteous life together you desire.

In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.”

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Marriage Conference

Week Three:
“Divorce is the Problem, Not the Solution”

[A Special Note: We recognize that some of you taking this study may have been through a divorce. It’s clear the Bible makes allowances for divorce in certain circumstances such as ongoing adultery by a spouse or desertion by an unbelieving mate. It may be you were the innocent party and never wanted the divorce. Or perhaps you were not a believer at the time and didn’t understand God’s Word on divorce. Thankfully, whatever our circumstances, if we’ve fallen short of God’s standard, the grace of God can remove our sin and guilt. We need only come to Jesus Christ in genuine repentance and place our faith in the finished work of the Cross. Then Christ will remove our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12). The goal of this week’s study is one you will agree with wholeheartedly: to prevent divorce from happening to you or someone else you care about. You already know it’s one of life’s most painful experiences. Thankfully God has a better plan for all of us. We invite you to join us in learning what the Bible says about making marriage for better, for worse, and for keeps.]

1. Can we talk? (10 minutes of group discussion)

“Does divorce really solve the problems between a husband and wife?”

“If there was a good alternative to divorce would most people choose that instead?”

“Who suffers the most when a divorce occurs?”

2. Have you ever thought of it this way? (10 minutes to read and gain perhaps a new perspective on your marriage)

Shouldn’t two people end their marriage when they just can’t resolve their problems and are miserable?

At first glance it would seem the compassionate answer is, “Yes, life is too short to live in a marriage that’s painful, loveless and going nowhere.” Yet, when we consider the emotional, financial, and spiritual consequences of divorce the more compassionate answer turns out to be just the opposite.

The truth is divorce creates more problems than it solves. Any solution that seriously complicates your life more than it simplifies it needs to be rejected in favor of a better answer. Divorce’s devastating impact on the children is well-documented. It’s a loss and trauma they never fully recover from – even as adults. We owe it to them to avoid inflicting such hurt if at all possible.

Before we go further, we need to say a word to those in extreme situations. We’re talking to spouses who are in a physically abusive, adulterous, or severely damaging relationship. It may be absolutely necessary for your protection and emotional well-being to separate from your spouse until they receive the help they need. God does not expect you to daily expose yourself to physical harm or emotional cruelty. Even in these severe situations couples have found that Christ can heal their relationship if they both pursue the help and counsel they need.

We’d like now to address those couples whose problems fall into the more middle range of issues such as: a lack of compatibility, failure to communicate, differing values, deep disappointment with each other, lack of sexual fulfillment, chronic emotional problems, pornography and addiction issues, growing apart over time, an inability to meet each other’s needs and unresolved bitterness. Problems such as these present a daunting challenge to your relationship. Yet the hidden costs and life-long pain of divorce should cause both of you to all the more pursue saving your marriage. Thank God there is hope for two people facing seemingly insurmountable problems.

The key to turning around a dying relationship is remarkably simple (yet often difficult to do): both partners must soften their hearts toward one another.

If the two of you will soften their hearts toward one another, that is move from rejecting one another to unconditionally accepting each other, there is no problem you cannot solve. It may take time, hard work, the involvement of wise and godly counselors, a true change of behavior, a profound spiritual turnaround and more but in the end you two will reconcile. Your marriage will be saved.

There is no problem, heartache, painful memory, selfish act of betrayal, or hateful words that two softened hearts cannot overcome.

Consider the alternative. While many people believe divorce will magically end their misery, isolation, and loneliness, usually the opposite happens. Over time it typically makes all three problems worse. While there may be short-term relief after a divorce, it is often followed by a deep and soul-searing sense of sadness that silently sets in.

Why is that? Isn’t divorce the ticket to a fresh start in life? Doesn’t it press the delete button and erase all our unwanted emotional data? The truth is no. While divorce can nullify the legal, social, and financial bonds between the two of you, it has no power to cancel the spiritual oneness God created when you married.

Jesus points out this hidden truth when asked about divorce, “Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

God created marriage to be an irreversible process. Ask someone who is divorced, and often they will tell you that part of them still remains with the person they were married to. Why is that? The mystery of spiritual oneness is deeper and more lasting than we can comprehend. Even years after divorce ex-spouses still often struggle with a sense of sorrow, loss, and regret. They discover that oneness they knew never entirely disappears. One prominent marriage counselor who has worked with thousands of couples remarked if most people would wait three years after a divorce to marry, they would remarry their former spouse.

God wants to spare us life-long pain and regret. He wants to enjoy the best that life and relationships can offer. He wants us to experience first-hand His unbreakable commitment to us through Jesus Christ. That’s why He says in the book of Malachi, “I hate divorce…” Please note: God doesn’t say He hates divorced people; He only hates what divorce does to people He loves.

That’s why Christ offers us a much better alternative, an alternative we all need to pursue on a daily basis: a softened heart.

3. So where’s that in the Bible? (20 minutes to study what the
Scriptures have to say on the subject)

Principle #1: God designed marriage to be till death do us part, that’s why divorce is a violation of His divine plan.

(Matthew 19:3-9) “Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?" "Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

"Why then," they asked, "did Moses command that a man give his wife a certificate of divorce and send her away?" Jesus replied, "Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning. I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery."

Study Questions:

“Why does Jesus refer to God as the Creator when discussing marriage?”

“Who is it that married (joined together) the two of you according to Jesus?”

“What is the spiritual result of divorce and remarriage for reasons other than marital unfaithfulness?”

Principle #2: God’s alternative to divorce is to soften our hearts toward one another and remain true to our marriage vows.

(Ezekiel 35:26) “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

(Ephesians 4:31-32) “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
(Malachi 2:14-16) “…The LORD is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his…So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth. `"I hate divorce,’ says the LORD God of Israel, `and I hate a man's covering himself with violence as well as with his garment,’ says the LORD Almighty. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith.”
Study Questions:

“Who can give us a softened heart toward our spouse?”

“Why should we forgive our spouse when they’ve done something to hurt us?”

“What does it mean to avoid breaking faith with our spouse?”

4. So what does this mean for us? (15 minutes to apply what we’ve
learned to our marriage this week)

• Divorce is a solution that creates more problems than it solves. Stop and consider all the unwelcome results that would enter your life if you divorced your spouse. How many of these would be life-long?
• The alternative to divorce is to soften your heart toward one another. What does a softened heart look like? Why is it so effective in resolving problems in a marriage? Will you both pray daily for God to keep your heart soft toward one another?
• God wants us to keep faith with the partner of our youth. What are some safeguards you can put around your marriage to keep you from breaking faith? What are the life-long benefits of remaining faithful to each other?

5. Can we pray? (5 minutes to affirm the truths you’ve learned
from the Creator of Marriage)

Pair off with your mate and pray this prayer together: “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for giving us one another to share our journey through life. We affirm that our marriage vows are for as long as we both shall live.
We thank you that you have a much better plan for us than divorce and we here and now reject that option forever.

Instead, we ask you to give us a softened heart toward each other each and every day of our lives. We choose to obey your command to forgive each other just as Christ Jesus has forgiven us.

We commit ourselves to keeping faith with each other. We will guard our spirits so we do not break faith with the partner of our youth. We agree that in flesh and spirit our marriage belongs to the Lord. We agree together to seek the help we need when if we should go through difficult times. We pledge to take whatever steps are necessary in order to preserve our marriage.

We also pledge ourselves to solving our problems in a loving and God-honoring way. We will give our children the life-long security of two parents who love each other and stay married. Grant us grace, strength and love each new day so that we may live up to these sacred promises.

In the Name of the Creator of Marriage we pray, Amen.”

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Marriage Conference

Week Four:
The Best Sex is Married Sex

[Special Note: Given the sensitive nature of this week’s study we recommend dividing couples into a small group(s) for husbands and a small group(s) for wives. This will create the most comfortable setting for participants to share their views on sex openly and honestly.]

1. Can we talk? (10 minutes of group discussion)

“Is it fair to say we live in a sex-obsessed culture? Why?”

“Given the high divorce rate and the number of people involved in affairs is it safe to say people are struggling to find sexual fulfillment?”

“Does a healthy sex life create a good marriage or does a healthy marriage create a good sex life?”

2. Have you ever thought of it this way? (10 minutes to read and gain perhaps a new perspective on your marriage)

Is marriage really the only arrangement where genuine and lasting sexual fulfillment can take place?

That’s a question our society struggled with for the last 50 years since we begin to question traditional morality. Virtually every alternative to saving sex for marriage only has been tried. The results have been consistent – consistently tragic and heart-breaking. Let’s look at them one by one:

Casual sex or free love was the all the rage in the 1960’s. The so-called “new morality” promised to “liberate” sex from the oppressive bondage of previous generations. The new code was deceptively simple: As long as you both love each other you can engage in casual or recreational sex without guilt or fear. The end result of such liberation was deep disillusionment and despair. Couples discovered there is nothing “casual” or “free” about sex. It bonds us at the deepest level of our existence. To treat such a powerful and sacred union casually left millions with broken hearts and empty souls. Paul reminds us of the soul-bonding nature of sex in 1 Corinthians 6:16, “Do you not know that he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her in body? For it is said, `The two will become one flesh.’"
Next came the idea of “open marriages.” The proponents of this new arrangement argued that confining your sexual behavior to just one person was impractical, perhaps even unhealthy. After all, they argued, men are by nature polygamous and therefore it is unnatural for them to save themselves for one life-long partner. The results of this “open marriage” experiment (a euphemistic term for the old adultery) were as predictable as they were disastrous. As married couples swapped partners or pursued multiple lovers the trust, intimacy, and love which once held their marriages together seriously deteriorated.
In its place came guilt, anger and often the end of their marriage. What proponents of open marriage left out of the equation was the unchangeable truth that true sexual intimacy requires exclusivity and commitment. That’s something the writers of Scripture told us millennia ago, “Drink water from your own cistern, running water from your own well. Should your springs overflow in the streets, your streams of water in the public squares? Let them be yours alone, never to be shared with strangers (Proverbs 5:15-17).”
The push to live together or cohabitate before marriage came next. The argument for it sounded quite logical, “Two people need to discover if they are truly compatible before they get married. The only way they can do that is to get to know each other first – including in their sexual relationship. That way they can see if they really are right for each other and avoid a painful divorce.” On the surface it sounded like an air-tight case for skipping marriage and sharing the same address.

Unfortunately, as one famous writer remarked, “Facts are stubborn things.” What emerged from live-in relationships were less stable, less permanent, and in some cases, less physically safe relationships. Facts tell us the majority of couples who live together before marriage never do get married. Live-ins who do marry one another get divorced at a much higher rate. Studies also confirm the women most at risk for physical abuse are single mothers who cohabitate with their boyfriend.

So after nearly five decades of sexual experimentation and rejection of traditional morality a national study of the sexual behavior of Americans found something most unexpected (yet fascinating). They discovered the people reporting the most frequent and satisfying sex have three things in common: they are married, monogamous, and highly religious. In other words, they live according to the plan God designed for life-long sexual fulfillment.

A similar study of sorts was conducted nearly three millennia ago. King Solomon of ancient Israel took 1000 wives for himself according to the biblical record. If any man ever had the opportunity to experience a sexual paradise it was him. Yet, as the king looks back at his life he sounds anything but a satisfied lover, “I acquired…a harem as well—the delights of the heart of man…I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure…(yet) everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:8-11).”

In that sense you might say the new morality is really not all that new. What each generation discovered when they stepped outside of the God-ordained boundaries for marriage, the results were disappointing. The new arrangement never lived up to its promises. That’s because sex always has and always will come with a price. The good news is that married sex is a priceless gift that actually increases in value. It does so the longer we are married and remain faithful to our vows. Only monogamous, faith-driven marriage can provide a lifetime of sexual fulfillment and satisfaction that leaves both partners without shame, guilt or regrets.

3. So where’s that in the Bible? (20 minutes to study what the
Scriptures have to say on the subject)

Principle #1: God Created sex therefore only He understands how it is designed for our joy and fulfillment.
(Genesis 1:27-28) “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”
(Genesis 2:22-25) “Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, "This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called 'woman,' for she was taken out of man." For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
Study Questions:

“What special blessing has God pronounced on married sexual intimacy?”

“How is the spiritual unity in married sex a reflection of the creation of the first man and woman?”

“What is the three step process of marriage described in this passage?”

“Why is total transparency with your spouse such an important aspect of marriage?”

Principle #2: Sex is a gift to be celebrated only within the security, sanctity, and stability of marriage.

(Proverbs 5:18-21) “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife? For a man's ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths.”

(1 Corinthians 6: 3-5) “The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife's body does not belong to her alone but also to her husband. In the same way, the husband's body does not belong to him alone but also to his wife. Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”
(Hebrews 13:4) “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.”
Study Questions:

“What does it mean to `rejoice’ and be `captivated’ by the wife of your youth?”

“What does the Bible say about spouses meeting each other’s sexual needs on a regular basis?”

“How should we to treat the marriage bed (another term for the sacredness of the married sexual relationship)? What are the results of violating that sacredness?”

4. So what does this mean for us? (15 minutes to apply what we’ve
learned to our marriage this week)

• Every attempt to alter God’s basic design for the married sexual relationship results in failure and heart-ache. Stop and consider the outcome in the lives of people you know who chose to ignore God’s plan for sex. Were the long-term results a blessing or sorrow? What impact did it have on the people close to them such as their children?
• God is the Creator and designer of the married sexual relationship. Make a list of the blessings that a loving sexual relationship brings to your marriage. Do you give thanks to God on a regular basis for the gift of married sex?
• The Scriptures tell us in order to enjoy the gift of married sex we must reject all temptations to stray. Discuss practical ways you and your spouse can build “hedges” around your relationship to protect it from infidelity. Are you both daily on guard against Satan’s attempts to get you to dishonor your marriage bed?

5. Can we pray? (5 minutes to affirm the truths you’ve learned
from the Creator of Marriage)

Pair off with your mate and pray this prayer together: “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you the marvelous gift of our married sexual relationship. We affirm this gift is sacred and that it is never to be shared with strangers for as long as we both shall live. We pledge this day to honor your Name by safeguarding our sexual relationship from all outsiders and intruders. We promise to listen to the voice of your Holy Spirit when He warns us of impending danger and flee all sexual temptation.

We commit ourselves to meeting one another’s sexual needs on a regular basis as an act of unselfish love. We will not deny each other’s sexual needs except by mutual agreement. Then it will only be for a short period of time so that we might devote ourselves to prayer. We pledge to honor you with our bodies knowing they are a temple of the Holy Spirit.

We commit ourselves this day to an exclusively married, monogamous, and faith-driven sexual relationship. We ask You Jesus to guard our spirits. Grant us the strength and grace and wisdom to forever keep faith with the spouse of our youth.

In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.”

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Marriage Conference

Week Five
The Miracle of Forgiveness

1. Can we talk? (10 minutes of group discussion)

Is it more or less difficult to forgive someone very close to us?

Is it possible to both forgive and forget?

How can you tell someone is sincere when they are asking for your forgiveness?

2. Have you ever thought of it this way? (10 minutes to read and gain perhaps a new perspective on your marriage)

Why do I struggle with forgiving my spouse?

Forgiveness is a difficult thing to offer because it often goes against our instinct for justice and punishment. Furthermore, we may have a distorted or incomplete view of what genuine forgiveness is. As a result, even when we say we forgive our husband or wife our inner feelings of unforgiveness may linger on.

To understand what forgiveness truly is let’s start with a biblical definition of forgiveness. In the original language of the New Testament there were two primary words used for forgiveness. One means to “send away,” while the other means to “show grace or pardon.”

Both of these definitions help us understand what true forgiveness in a marriage looks like. Let’s say our spouse does something to really hurt our feelings. In a moment of unguarded anger they spoke harsh and angry words. Later, when they realize how wrong they are to say such things they approach us and ask for our forgiveness.

Now we have some hard choices to make.

We can decide to hold on to our feelings of hurt, anger and injustice we feel, or we can decide to “send away” the offense. It’s like the ancient Israelites who would release a goat in the desert never to return.

We must also decide what to do with the actual moral offense our spouse has committed against us. Our human nature demands the guilty party receive a punishment for their wrongdoing. If we choose to go that route we will refuse their plea for a pardon and punish them accordingly – perhaps anywhere from imposing the silent treatment for a few days to filing for divorce (depending on the seriousness and nature of the offense). Or, we can decide to show them grace and cancel entirely their moral debt against us. If we go that route, and our mate is sincere in their desire for forgiveness, it will result in genuine reconciliation and renewed intimacy in our marriage.

To see such oneness restored in the marriage, we must be willing to take one further step in the forgiveness process. Many people miss this one and as a result forgiveness is tripped up ten yards from the finish line. We must be willing to personally accept and bear the emotional consequences of our mate’s sinful behavior against you to completely forgive. This observation, made by noted marriage counselor John Regier, is very important.

Many spouses can go along with the idea they need to let go of their mate’s offense and get on with life. They may even be good with the idea that they have to graciously release their mate from the moral debt they are owed. But when it comes to the idea they must actually choose to bear the emotional consequences of their mate’s sin – well, that’s more than they can bear.

[Please note: There are cases where even though we forgive our mate they still must bear the legal, social and moral consequences of their actions. Forgiveness, while it does release someone from the moral debt they owe us, does not always cancel the debts our spouse may owe to the larger society and the law. Nor does it mean we should stay in that situation if it puts us in danger. Domestic violence and criminal activity would be two examples where the practical consequences of sin reach far beyond the marriage.]

In reality, as Neil Anderson points out, we all must bear the consequences of someone else’s sin against us. Once our mate has sinned against us they cannot turn the clock back and erase the results of what they did wrong. We now must bear the consequences of their wrongdoing. Either we will bear the emotional consequences of what was done to us in a spirit of bitterness or resentment or we bear it in an attitude of grace and forbearance. The choice is ours. One road leads to ongoing anger and alienation, the other to lasting peace and reconciliation.

What does it mean to bear the emotional consequences of someone else’s sin? Let’s say your mate says something insulting about your family in front of your friends. You are hurt, angry, and feel humiliated. Fortunately, your spouse realizes their wrongdoing and approaches you to ask your forgiveness. To fully forgive them and put the incident behind you both, you will have to choose to bear the painful feelings their words created in a spirit of grace. Yet, because you have forgiven them the memory of their words will no longer control or torment your life. The edge will have been taken off the incident.

As Neil Anderson all observes all real forgiveness is substitutionary in nature. Scripture clearly teaches this fact. Isaiah 53:5-6 illustrates this clearly in speaking of the death of the Christ, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
So if you find yourself stuck when it comes to forgiving your mate for a past offense, stop and ask, “Have I been willing to bear the emotional consequences of their behavior? Or am I still demanding they pay the price?” It may just be that though you said you had forgiven him or her, the process has never been fully completed.
We often teach couples that the nine words that can save any marriage. Here they are: “I am sorry. I was wrong. Please forgive me.” However, for forgiveness cycle to truly be completed we need to learn to respond with 12 more words, “I forgive you. I release you. I will bear the emotional consequences. “
Forgiveness is no easy thing. Yet, when practiced generously and freely by both spouses for a lifetime, it produces a home filled with love and harmony. It’s the kind of home once you visit, you don’t want to leave.

3. So where’s that in the Bible? (20 minutes to study what the
Scriptures have to say on the subject)

Principle #1: The justification for forgiving others (including my spouse) is found in the forgiveness God has extended to me.
(Matthew 18:2-35) "Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. "The servant fell on his knees before him. 'Be patient with me,' he begged, 'and I will pay back everything.' The servant's master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
"But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. 'Pay back what you owe me!' he demanded. "His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, 'Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.' "But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. "Then the master called the servant in. 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?'
In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."
Study Questions:

“Is there any possible way we could pay back God all the debts we owe Him?”

“What did the king choose to do rather than negotiate a repayment plan? What does this teach us about God’s forgiveness?”

“What did the servant in turn do with the debtor that owed him money? What does this teach us about our human attitude toward forgiveness?”

“What warning does Jesus give us about the danger of unforgiveness?”

Principle #2: True forgiveness requires us to bear the consequences of someone else’s sinful behavior.

(John 1:29) “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

(Colossians 3:12-4) “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”

(1 Peter 3:23-24) “When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

Study Questions:

“What was the life purpose of the Lamb of God? How does a sacrificial lamb substitute for someone else’s guilt and sin?

“Which grievances should we forgive and which should we not? Whose pattern are we to follow in forgiving each other?

“Whose sins did Christ bear? What benefit do we gain as a result of His wounds?”

4. So what does this mean for us? (15 minutes to apply what we’ve
learned to our marriage this week)

• Forgiveness involves releasing our spouse from the debt they owe us. Are you tempted to keep a list of your mate’s unpaid debts against you? What does God want us to do with these debts? What will happen to our marriage (and to us individually) if we refuse to send these debts away?
• We are justified in forgiving our spouse because God has forgiven us in Jesus Christ. How should this truth help us to forgive our spouse on a day to day basis?
• We will either bear the consequences of our mate’s sins in a spirit of bitterness or forgiveness. What is the long-term impact on a marriage when one or both partners refuse to let go of bitterness? What are the subtle signs of unforgiveness? What are the signs of true forgiveness?
• Forgiveness brings healing. What does forgiveness heal in our lives? Are there hurts and wounds in your relationship that need healing? What practical steps can you take to start the healing process today?

5. Can we pray? (5 minutes to affirm the truths you’ve learned
from the Creator of Marriage)

Pair off with your mate and pray this prayer together: “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that you sent the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Thank you that He came to take away our sins. We pledge to remember daily just how much you have forgiven us so we will remain willing to forgive each other.

Thank you that Jesus was willing to bear our sins in His body on the Cross. He was our true substitute. We commit ourselves to bearing the emotional consequences of each other in a spirit of forgiveness and grace. We refuse to allow any bitter root to grow in our relationship that would defile our marriage, home and children.

Finally, we ask you to forgive us for holding on to old grievances and hurts. We release them to you today and ask you to bring healing to our relationship. We commit ourselves today to following your example of forgiveness. When you forgave our sins you separated them as far as the east is from the west. Today, we forgive each other and ask you to separate these sins from our marriage the same eternal distance.

We pray all this in the Name of the Perfect Lamb of God, our Lord Jesus, Amen.”

A Six Week Follow-Up Study for Couples
For Better, For Worse, For Keeps Marriage Conference

Week Six
Is There a Purpose for your Marriage?

1. Can we talk? (10 minutes of group discussion)

“Do most people have a clear sense of their purpose in life?”

“Does God bring two people together in marriage for a specific reason?”

“Have you as couple ever experienced a specific answer to prayer?”

2. Have you ever thought of it this way? (15 minutes to read and gain perhaps a new perspective on your marriage)

“How can we know God has a purpose and plan for our marriage? If He does, how can we know discover what it is?”

These are important questions. The answers people give differ wildly from one another. Yet, the answers we choose to believe will make all the difference in our personal lives and marriage.

Some believe, “No, there is no real purpose for your existence. We are simply the product of time plus chance and the evolutionary process. Our marriage is nothing more than the product of a blind fate that allows people to randomly meet one another. Our social preferences, cultural upbringing, and basic heredity determined our attraction to one another. We might as well enjoy life now, because when it’s over that’s all there is. Our existence ends at death.”

There are others who answer to the question of our existence (including our marriage) in a far different way, “Yes, Our time on earth together was planned before we were born. In fact, our lives were planned before the earth itself came into existence. We are the creation of an all-loving, all-wise, all-powerful God who created us for His purposes. He planned our mate and brought us together just the right time. We not only take pleasure in life and marriage now, but we know the best is yet to come. When our lives are over we will spend eternity in the presence of our loving Savior who created us for eternal fellowship.”

As you can see these two world views are very far apart. If there is no God, then there is no purpose to our lives on this random and insignificant planet. However, if there is a loving Creator God, then all of life has His divine imprint and plan embedded in it. Our marriage becomes an exciting journey as we discover more and more the reasons God brought us together.

As we learned in earlier lessons, God created then introduced the very first couple -- Adam and Eve. It was a statement of the fact there is nothing by chance when it comes to the activity of God in our lives. Everything He does has purpose and design. How can we discover the purpose(s) God has for us as a married couple during this time we have on this earth?

The place to begin is the Word of God, the Scriptures, which reveals in perfect fashion the mind and purposes of God Himself. In the Old Testament 2 Samuel 22:31 assures us we can trust God’s Word, “As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” In the New Testament Jesus declares this same faith in the Scriptures, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).”

What does the Bible say about discovering God’s will for our lives? It begins with putting our full faith in God. Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and He will make your paths straight.” If as a couple you honor and acknowledge God in all areas of your marriage, God promises that He will direct your life’s journey.

Another means of knowing God’s purpose and plan for your marriage is through prayer. Prayer is simply talking to God. As in any worthwhile conversation, it requires we both speak and listen. While God will not respond in an audible voice He has promised to answer us when we pray. Jeremiah 33:3 makes an incredible claim, “'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'” When we pray for God’s has promised to answer and guide us.

Thankfully, Scriptures is very clear about the primary purposes for our lives and marriage. Psalm 86:12 declares, “I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.” The first and most important reason for our existence on earth is to bring glory to God. Everything we do in our daily lives in one way or another should glorify the Name of Christ.

Ephesians 2:10 instructs we exist to accomplish the work God has for us, “For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” God has designed tasks for us to complete as individuals and a couple that were prepared before we ever met one another.
Malachi 2:15 states that procreation, or child-bearing is another reason God created the marriage relationship, “Has not the LORD made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” God desires godly married parents to raise-up and train godly children who will grow up to love, worship, and serve Him.
Proverbs 5:18-20 tell us marriage exists to bring joy and satisfaction through the sexual relationship, “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. A loving doe, a graceful deer— may her breasts satisfy you always, may you ever be captivated by her love. Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress? Why embrace the bosom of another man's wife?” Experiencing life-long sexual fulfillment and satisfaction in marriage is one of God’s purposes for our lives.
Our marriage should also mirror the love relationship between Christ and His Church, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church… `For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” As we live a life of love toward one another the watching world comes to understand Christ’s true love for His people.
Finally, Matthew 28:19-20 tell us we exist to have a part in God’s great plan to evangelize and disciple people of every nation, “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." While God has a unique plan and journey for each individual marriage, our relationship is meant to fit into His larger plan to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and make disciples throughout the world.

As you can see some choose to believe that our lives are random, meaningless, and simply tragic blips on the surface of an accidental planet. However, that’s not at all what the Scriptures teach. Rather the Bible clearly states that God Himself created us with loving and eternal intentions in mind. Which idea we choose to believe will make all the difference in determining the character and destiny of our marriages. One leads to despair and cynicism, the other hope and ongoing faith in the future.

Which will you choose to believe?

3. So where’s that in the Bible? (20 minutes to study what the
Scriptures have to say on the subject)
Principle #1: God created us with a specific purpose and plan for our lives and marriage.
(Psalm 139: 13-14, 16) “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”
(Isaiah 43:1-2) “But now, this is what the LORD says—he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you...”

(Acts 9:15) “But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! This man (Paul) is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel.”

Study Questions:

“Who created you in the womb? How much of your life was planned before you were born?”

“Does God know us individually and by name? What promises has He made to us help us when we pass through difficult trials?”

“Does God choose specific people for specific tasks? What was Paul’s pre-ordained mission in life?”

Principle #2: We can discover God’s leading for our lives and marriage through a study of Scripture and a life of prayer.

(Psalm 23:1-3, 6) “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, He restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake...Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”

(Isaiah 30:20-21) “Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, `This is the way; walk in it.’"

(Philippians 4:6-7) “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

(2 Timothy 3:10, 15-17) “You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose…and how from infancy you have known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Study Questions:

“What specific paths has God promised to lead you in? What two specific blessings can you expect to follow you as long as you live?”

“Does God promise us a life free from trouble? What assurances does He give when facing difficult decisions?”

“What is the Bible’s alternative to worry? What are we encouraged to do with our problems and confusion?”

“Did the apostle Paul know his purpose in life? What wisdom can you gain from studying the Holy Scriptures? How does God’s Word reshape our lives?”

4. So what does this mean for us? (15 minutes to apply what we’ve
learned to our marriage this week)

• God planned your existence and marriage before time began. How can this give you peace of mind when you two hit hard times? How does knowing we were meant for each other help bring contentment to our marriage? How can it help us resist the temptation to stray?
• We can discover God’s will for our lives through prayer and studying the Bible. How can the two of you use prayer to connect with God on a daily basis? How can you use the Bible to do the same?
• Our marriages are to mirror Christ’s love relationship with his Church. What would sacrificial love in marriage look like? How much should we be willing to sacrifice to show Christ-like love for our spouse? Why are husbands commanded to love their wives while wives are commanded to respect their husbands? What will love and respect do for a marriage?
• Prayer is God’s alternative to confusion and worry. Can the two of you spend 5 to 10 minutes each day to pray together? Why would Satan want to block that time? Would you be willing to give thanks to God for both the good and the difficult in your lives? Is He at work in both? What changes will occur in your home when the peace of God is guarding your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus?

5. Can we pray? (5 minutes to affirm the truths you’ve learned
from the Creator of Marriage)

Pair off with your mate and pray this prayer together: “Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you that You created us with a purpose to our lives and marriage. We commit ourselves to discovering that purpose and living it out each in order to glorify You. Our desire is to accomplish the good works that you prepared for us in advance to do.

Lord, we thank you that you have promised to lead us in the paths of righteousness for your Name’s sake. Please show us that path each morning and give us the strength to walk it all the day through. We commit ourselves to following you, our Shepherd, wherever you should lead us.

Thank you that you have promised to be with us even in times of trouble. We know that you allow difficulties into our lives to accomplish good things, not to either harm or destroy us. We pledge to believe, even in the tough times, that You are up to something good in our marriage.

Jesus, we thank you for the Bible and the gift of prayer. We promise to try each day to read the Bible together and come before you in prayer. As we do, we ask that you give us the peace that passes all understanding. In Jesus precious Name we pray, Amen.”