How to Turn Your Marriage Around in 10 Days

Having a blog means at a certain point people will start asking if they can send you their books to read and review. I try to avoid book reviews because for one, I find them boring and secondly, I don’t like many of the books sent my way.

However, a few weeks back I received an advanced copy of How to Turn Your Marriage Around in 10 Days by Philip Wagner, Sr. Pastor of Oasis Church in Los Angeles. I started to casually peruse it like usual, expecting just another “marriage miracle” book and I have to say, this book might actually be the real deal.

Turns out, Wagner and his wife have been married 27 years and have counseled couples all over the world. So, it’s no surprise that his book is full of practical, candid, and relatable advice. So much so, that it inspired me to write a post in response.

Now, I don’t need to turn my marriage around in 10 days, but Wagner acknowledges that even if you have a great marriage  there are still valuable lessons within the book’s pages.

My favorite chapter dealt with priorities. As I was reading I found myself saying things like, “Oh, snap” and “Oh, he just went there.” Wager pulls no punches and cuts straight to the point:

Does prioritizing time with friends speak about your spouse’s needs and wants, or yours? Do your checkbook entries reveal money spent growing your relationship, or escaping it? What is the priority of your life?

Now, I don’t know about you, but I strongly believe that where we spend our money is a reflection of our heart. I never thought about actually spending money to grow my marriage, but in reality, that is exactly what Jonathan and I do.

We save to take much-needed-child-free-vacations. We have date night every week and have committed that if ever there was a time when we would need to pay for babysitting (cause’ grandmas are awesome and free) we would. We spend money to prioritize our relationship.

Wagner goes on to say,”“Is your marriage business-centered? Children-centered? Friend-centered? Ministry-centered? Or is your marriage itself the priority?

Often times, Wagner explains, we are afraid to prioritize our marriages for fear that they will become idols. We believe in not neglecting our marriages or not letting them slip down on the list of priorities, but that is not the same as creating a marriage-centered life.

My husband has told me from day one of life together that I would always remain his number one ministry. Our marriage takes precedence over our children, our church, our friendships, our extended family. Some people find this idea uncomfortable or out of order. But, assuming both spouses are living Christ-centered lives, the next and logical priority must be one’s marriage.

My children, family, friends, and church will see a healthy marriage. That is our witness of Christ. In prioritizing our marriage, we are painting for those watching an intricate and powerful portrait of Jesus’ love for His bride. When we consider that some statistics suggest that the average marriage lasts only 7 years, why would we wait to begin cultivating marriage-centered lives?

I appreciated the questions Wagner poses on priorties and I submit them to you, as well:

Think about what takes your attention away from your marriage. Is it your career, money, friends, hobbies, or goals? Is it your ministry or Church? How will you prioritize your relationship? What will you give up in order to have a marriage-centered life?

To learn more about How to Turn Your Marriage Around in 10 Days and hear thoughts from Phillip, visit www.philipwagner.com, like him on Facebook or follow him on twitter@philipwagnerLA.

Are There Degrees of Sin?

I can’t count the number of times I have heard a Christian say something along the lines of, “Well, sin is sin. God sees all sin the same.”

Really? Does He, really? God sees all sin the same?

Do you believe that? Because, I, for one, have a hard time believing that someone stealing a candy bar is the equivalent of murdering an innocent person, in God’s eyes.

The arguement that the two are identical in their weight and nature, “sin is sin,” flies in the face of God’s character. Nowhere in scripture do we see God acting this out. If anything, we see the opposite.

Jesus actually gives us quite a few references to degrees of sin. The following two passages refer specifically to a greater degree of punishment: Continue reading Are There Degrees of Sin?

Technical Difficulties…

My baby, my dear sweet baby, Mac has been displaying some alarming symptoms as of late and as a result, I was unable to finish the post I had planned for today. Of course, now she’s cooperating just fine. Like women, it seems Macs can be finicky.

But, said post will up tomorrow, so never fear. In the meantime, why not go read some oldies but goodies like these:

101 Random Facts about Nicole, The Modern Reject

Why Church is Hard

Easily Offended? Yeah, That’s Me

Theological Ninja or Sucker?

15 Things You Should Tell Your Kids

Who’s Your Pastor? (Hint: It’s Not Who You Think it is)

Friday Findings: The Election, Mockery, And Proof of God

Frieday Findings on Modern Reject

Happy Friday! I’ve had a great week, especially since I celebrated my 7 year wedding anniversary to the man of my dreams. If you’d ever like to spy on us (in a very socially acceptable way) follow me on Instagram @modernreject.

Anyhoo, besides being a fun week celebrating there were also some great reads on the Interwebz. Hope you enjoy and happy weekend. See you Monday!

Did Apple Really Just Screw Over iPad Owners? Pretty much, yeah.

Daughter, Love Your Hips, No Matter the Width from Nikki Weatherford. I wish I had read this as a younger woman.

The Age of Mockery from Daylight Atheism talks about Libya, Islam, and the Muslim definition of “freedom of speech.” Interesting perspective.

Sometimes Truth Arrives in Disguise from Kristin over at Halfway to Normal. A beautiful description of the seemingly mundane, ordinary moments that when we pause long enough to notice hold real beauty.

With the election days away, I had to share this post from Jen Hatmaker. In one fell swoop, Jen systematically attacks the Christian reasons often given for voting Republican or Democrat. I don’t agree with everything she wrote, but I do find it rather brilliant and worth reading. Chew on this, for instance:

“Full allegiance silences our prophetic voice in favor of touting party lines and demands we turn our fellow citizens into enemies for differing viewpoints.”

What’s your condition? How do you cope? Who did you become? A fascinating “psycho-dimensional infographic” that explains how psychotherapy sees you. Healthy? Schizoid? Narcissist? Find out.

18 Things You Didn’t Know Your Slow Cooker Could Make, because I mean, I am a stay home mom after all.

From Nish, The Truth About Going Back to Church. After reading this post, I was overcome with sadness–sadness for what she has experienced and sadness for knowing what could be, but what it seems is not.

My Favorite Read of the Week: From my friend Karen, A Different Kind of Birth (and Proof of God) in which Karen masterfully and beautifully ties the story of her mother’s (very) recent death with the existence of God and new life. You will be so glad you read this. 

P.S. In case you missed my interview from yesterday over at Jamal’s blog, please come visit. The questions were challenging, personal, and so fun to answer. Stop over and add your own questions in the comments. Hope to see you there.

My Interview at Illuminate

A few months ago, I discovered the blog of Jamal Jivanjee, Illuminate. Since that time, I have made Jamal one of my daily reads and I am convinced that he is a teacher among teachers, able to illuminate (see what I did there?) the Word of God and, in doing so, bring about a new and fresh understanding of Jesus Christ.

In other words, this guy rocks and I am honored to be featured on his blog today. He asked if I’d be interested in doing an interview, to which I enthusiastically answered, “Yes!” I’ve done a few interviews before, but Jamal’s questions were brilliant. I joked that I actually learned some new things about myself.

So, if you’re interested in hearing me talk about how I found my way back to the Lord after wandering, what (else) my husband does well, how I ended up in an organic church, and my dream for the church as a whole, please come over and hang out. I’d love to see you there. Feel free to ask me any other questions you might have brewing on Jamal’s post.

How God Led Me to Organic Church

Today, I’m over at Prodigal Magazine talking about how God moved me from where I was and what I thought was church, to where I am now. Here’s a taste…

I thought church was what I experienced with my grandmother at Mass–a stuffy room, while beautiful was rather cold, filled with lots of old people crossing themselves and young people looking painfully bored.

So, when I was introduced to the new modern “relevant” versions of church I was surprised, albeit a bit unsure. Because as a new Christian, I was hungry–hungry for the things of God. I wanted to know about the whys and hows. I searched the Bible tirelessly looking for more answers. I got Jesus, but I wanted to know more of Him and why He did what He did for me.

But what I found, in the church buildings I stepped into, were for the most part, a lot of people simply wanting to be entertained. I didn’t know any better and I wasn’t entirely sure but was God a God of Entertainment? Or was He something all together different?

 To keep reading, please join me over at Prodigal and leave some comment love. I hope to see you there.

Friday Findings: Fortune Cookies, Drowning, and Too Close to God

Frieday Findings on Modern RejectHoly wow, there is just too much to share on today’s Friday Findings…so let’s dig in…

Stop taking pictures of your kids. I mean it. Stop.

Yet another reason I want an iPad.

What to do when you don’t know what to do: “Prophetic insight is not a gift, I think this morning, prophetic insight is a bear and a burden.”

Wait, so I’m not crazy? None of the female persuasion is crazy? Say whaaat??!!

The Gospel in a fortune cookie? Or not. Brilliance all around.

This was so me in college. All of me. Still a little bit of me, but I’m getting better.

Ever feel like you’re drowning? I have. I’m That Girl Who’s Drowning

Pure fodder and an admitted guilty pleasure read, but yes, as we suspected, Tom Cruise is off his flippin’ rocker….. 

Guaranteed to make you cry and cheer. A beautiful post from my friend Tracy Steel, about losing her mother but knowing she will see her again.

This man actually witnessed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination. You read that right. It’s a video from 1956 and it’s pretty remarkable.

Is it possible to get too close to God? Sarah did and I loved reading about it.

My Favorite Read of the Week: If you’ve ever felt like God owed you, if you’ve ever felt disappointed, if you’ve ever felt hopeless, left waiting, uncertain–read this.

P.S. I’m over at Matt Appling’s blog, The Church of No People, today talking about being a feminist and then former feminist wife. Here’s a taste:

What’s more, I could have never predicted that I would be willingly joining a group of people who are often quoted as saying all kinds of absurd things like “Wives have a responsibility to always look hot for their husbands,” or “Women are required to give their husbands sex whenever they want it.”

No. This couldn’t possibly be. No one who loves Jesus could actually make such claims with a straight face. It wasn’t possible. And yet…these ideas are prevalent within the church.

Slowly, however, as God does what it is that He does so well–pull us from where we’ve been and where comfort resides only to drop us smack in the middle of the opposite.

To keep reading, come on over. Hope to see you there. 

What did you read this week that you’re just dying to share? I know you’ve got something. Let’s hear it!

When You’re in Love…

from the archives

When You’re in Love…

You think about the person upon waking up.

You can’t wait to talk.

You’re reminded of them throughout your day.

You’ll happily spend time with them, even if it means canceling plans.

When You’re in Love…

You tell everyone about the love in your life.

Things that once seemed crucial, suddenly seem less important.

Just being in their company is enough.

When You’re in Love…

Being apart is painful, unbearable even.

Things that once seemed trivial can become romantic.

You’d travel as far as necessary to see their face, be in their presence.

When You’re in Love…

Giving up something for them is done easily.

You’d happily spend a fortune on them.

Serving them becomes second nature.

When You’re in Love…

You could talk for hours and never be bored.

You couldn’t imagine your life without them in it.

You’re constantly reminded of how you don’t deserve them.

When You’re in Love…

When thinking of your future, they are always in it.

You smile when you hear their name.

Some might describe you as smitten, preoccupied, even obsessed.

You can’t fall asleep without telling them how much you love them.

So, how in love are you?

post inspired by Francis Chan and his book Crazy Love

6 Lies We Believe About the Church

One hundred religious persons knit into a unity by careful organization do not constitute a church any more than eleven dead men make a football team. The first requisite is life, always.“- A. W. Tozer

1. Church is optional. Ah, the lone believer, hell-bent on staying out of a church community for one reason or another. They were burned, chastised, or mistreated. And I get it. I, too, was a solo “Christian” trying to call a 5-minute quiet time and a snippet of scripture “church.” I know what it is to be community-less and long for (but never actually believe it could happen) a spiritual family, where brethren would lay down their life for one another–reminiscent of the book of Acts.

Oh yeah, but then, through a series of painful life-altering events (another post for another time), I came to see that church was not optional because, I was, in fact, the church. When scripture refers to the church as “the house of God,” “the Body of Christ,” “Christ’s bride,” it is referencing a people. The ekklesia, in Greek. It is not a place or a building, which leads me to…

2. We go to church. Those in the church, have long believed that we go to church. But, as stated above,  if we are the church, then this can’t actually be true. We don’t actually go to church on Sunday. What we do instead, is assemble where other members of the church happen to be, and we usually sit in a pew and listen to someone preach from the pulpit. This is not church. You are the church.

3. The church exists to reach the lost and unsaved. It was not so long ago that the Lord really clarified this point for me. In the Christian culture of “doing social justice,” “living missionally,” and “loving the unlovely,” it becomes easy to view the church as a vehicle in which to reach the unsaved.

However, this is not the primary function or purpose of the church. The church exists for the believer–to equip, edify, and empower the saints. To manifest the body and life of Jesus Christ. I know this might rub some people the wrong way, but if so, I encourage you to re-examine the scriptures. You may be surprised. I was.

4. A small group or Bible study is a perfectly acceptable replacement for “church.” Oh, I fell hard for this lie. I remember pastors enthusiastically telling me that if I had to choose between Sunday morning service and my weekly small group, I was to choose the latter. My small group, as it was explained  to me, was actually church.

Those pastors…they were trying. What they meant, or should have meant, was that a small group was more like church. But there was one big problem. We wrongly think that…

5. Hanging out with a group of individuals, just like us, is church. Sadly, what small groups, home groups, and many Bible studies have taught people is that a group of our peers gathered together is church. When Jesus refers to the “family of God,” I don’t think a twenty-somethings Wednesday night fellowship/hangout/thing is what He had in mind.

Families are made up of all kinds of people in all stages of life. There are moms and dads, brothers and sister, infants, cousins and even a few loud-mouthed crazy uncles (you know who you are). Church is, and should be, all of us. All the time.

6. We must grow the church. In the consumer-driven, “bigger is better” culture we find ourselves, many Christians have come to falsely believe that it is our responsibility to build the church. We think that we do the growing. But, 1Corinthians 3 teaches that, while some of us plant and others water, it is God who causes it to grow. We are “coworkers belonging to God,” allowed to fully in building His church. God is responsible…and I find that comforting.

Do you agree of disagree with my list? Have you fallen for any of these lies about church? What would you add to the list? Let’s hear it!