Kathy Petersen’s Blog

Focus on Marriage Teleconference, Part 4

Posted in Christianity, marriage by Kathy on March 8, 2009

Here is part 1 with the introduction; part 2; and part 3.

Mixed throughout the teleconference was singer Jeremy Camp; and during his performance he told a little story about his young daughter. He came up to her one time when she was eating a cup of ice cream and, throwing his arms open as wide as he could, said, “I love you THIS much!” Since she couldn’t hold onto her ice cream with just one hand, she couldn’t reciprocate, so she held her cup of ice cream between her hand and her chest, and threw out her free arm and said, “I love you this much, Daddy!” He commented that this is the way we are a lot of the times — unwilling to give up our worldly “ice cream” in order to love God with abandon.

The 4th speaker in the Focus on the Family Marriage Teleconference was Gary Smalley. His topic was “The Value of Connecting to the Father.”

The world’s belief is that you should focus on and love yourself most, and others less; that if you have money or thrills, then you will have a quality life; that happiness and satisfaction comes from getting, having and doing, and focusing on yourself.

There are two very powerful beliefs — the first one destroys and weakens relationships, keeps you in the darkness, keeps you from God; but the second is loving God and others first, and self second or last. Loving God squashes slef-love until it is very small — that Christ is my life — “out of the heart of man flows thoughts and actions” — a belief system. Stop trying to make others change, and just work on yourself.

Often many people (particularly married) have the thought, “If you change, I will be happier”; which actually is saying that God is not sufficient.

He admitted that this was how he lived most of his marriage. The particular example he gave was the following: he loved to exercise; his wife didn’t (he pointed out that often couples are like this — complete opposites in certain areas, like night owls [almost] always marry morning people). He thought that if she would just exercise with him, he’d be happier, and their marriage would be better. He said this was him trying to do the job of the Holy Spirit, which was bad in two particulars — 1st, he was not the Holy Spirit, so he was ineffectual in his own endeavors; and secondly, he was getting in the way of the Holy Spirit, preventing Him from working in his wife’s life.

What makes a great marriage? one that is full of love — you can’t manufacture God’s love (1 Cor. 13); if you have some false belief system in your life, you may be hindered. How do you get God’s love flowing all day? — Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches, both men and women, husband and wife — helpless without the Vine. We’re twigs, and can do nothing without Him. We need to pray to God for help, because we’re helpless — blind, dumb, with broken arms and broken legs — humble and helpless.

Gary Smalley had several props on the stage, and during this past paragraph, he made use of some of them. He brought out a grapevine with some bare branches that were not attached to the vine (with a pink ribbon on one of them, to denote the wife — I thought that was pretty cute). Because the branches were cut off from the vine, there were no leaves and no fruit. He took the branches and started beating one of the branches with the other one, imitating how husbands and wives often fight and nag — “Why don’t you just…?” And particularly saying things like, “Why don’t you grow leaves? Why don’t you produce fruit?” Pointing out that it is impossible for a cut-off branch to grow leaves or produce fruit; and likewise impossible for one branch to “beat the other one over the head” to force the other one to grow leaves or produce fruit. [I can’t give the proper “visual” of this, but it was hilarious!] The only way for that to happen is for the branches to be grafted into the vine, so that they can receive the sap and nourishment from the vine in order that they can live and produce leaves and fruit. Going back to the previous exercise example — he said that after 40-some years of marriage, he finally stopped getting on his wife about exercising, and about 4 years later she took up exercising on her own with zeal. He stopped “trying to be the Holy Spirit in her life” and just focused on his own deficiencies, and let God take care of her.

Another prop he used was a big sign, such as a street beggar might have — he held this up when he talked about us being helpless. He said that for the past several years he has made a deliberate and conscious decision to start the morning off by saying what he had on the sign. I forget the exact language, but basically it was, “I’m helpless. Lord, I need your help to do anything today.” He said that in the past few years his life has transformed in many ways. He admitted that even at the age of 65 he still would turn his head and look (lust) at a pretty woman who walked by. When he was younger, he thought, “That’s just the way God made men, and we can’t help it”; but by the time old age set in, he thought he should be done with that, but he wasn’t. Then he realized that he had been wrong this whole time, and that it was indeed a sin, and that he was powerless to stop… but that God was powerful. Within just the past few years, he no longer looks, after it being the habit of his lifetime. Another example was in his driving. Like many men, he was an aggressive driver (giving several examples which were all too familiar), but that through prayer (“I am helpless”) God was able to give him a new attitude. Rather than getting angry at the old people who were driving so slow in front of him, instead what comes out of his mouth (“out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks”) is rather thanks to them for visiting his city (Branson, MO) and keeping the economy going. He said, “That’s not ME! I’m not like that! But somehow God has put that in my heart!”

1 John 4:7-8 — “Beloved, let us love one another” — He grafts us into the Vine; like the sap of a vine or tree, it produces leaves (sign of life) and fruit. We need the love of Christ, the Holy Spirit (the sap of the Vine), in order to love each other, so we need to pray for the other and ourselves

All your stress is from the expectation of the world.

Things you can do to help you grow:

  1. pray together — that the worldly beliefs shrink, and God’s truth grows in our hearts.
  2. Bible-reading together
  3. Study together
  4. Attending church together
  5. memorizing and meditating upon Scriptures — think of the meaning, not just the bare words
  6. listen to Christian radio (rather than worldly garbage)
  7. listen to Christian worship and praise music
  8. watch Christ-centered movies
  9. and more –as a couple, so you grow together.

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One Response

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  1. Marilyn said, on March 8, 2009 at 9:01 pm

    I have so much enjoyed reading your recap of the Marriage Teleconference. Thank you for taking the time to give us readers a taste of what the speakers dished up. Wish it had been where I could have gone.

    God bless,

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