Marriage is Easier the Second Time. Not!

Roughly 48% percent of all marriages will end in divorce in America. The family is under constant attack as the new norm has now become blended families. Over half of all families in our country are second marriages with step-parents, and blended siblings.

We even see in the Bible where this became the societal norm of doing whatever was right in our own eyes (Judges 17:6). It is sad and disheartening that so many families have reached this place of compromise, but we cannot simply ignore their plight, throw scripture grenades at them, and expect their circumstances to get any easier. These families need our help! Marriage is tough enough the first time, but blended and second marriages bring tons of complicated baggage, and husbands and wives need our support and guidance to navigate through these hills and valleys. Many churches have no equipping tools to assist these families so the husbands and wives end up feeling different, and left feeling like a third wheel.

What are some ideas of new church ministries, and even things you as an individual can do to help guide and encourage husbands and wives in this situation?

If you are on a second marriage and a blended family, what has been your experience, whether good or bad, in your church?

Katie Cruises Out of Tom’s Top Gun Life

by Stephen Goode

Why in the world is a pastoral marriage counselor writing about the breakup of a celebrity couple who had irreconcilable differences in their marriage? After all, isn’t it a common occurrence for celebrity couples to create endless make-up and break-up headlines? What good would it possibly do to discuss such a common Hollywood event?

Katie and Tom seemed so fun and exciting! They were always jetting around and having fun, many times with their daughter Suri. There has been nothing out of their monetary reach since Tom has amassed such a large fortune, and Katie still has more than most young ladies her age (likely millions). It should be the dream for most girls to marry someone famous and just live happily ever after, except for one large problem.

Worldview

Whether or not we wish to acknowledge it, we all have a core worldview that drives every decision we make. Who we are and what we believe is going to impact every single area of our lives, which is why I wasn’t surprised when the internet became clogged with stories and rumors about Katie leaving Tom in New York.

Tom’s Belief in Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard

Both Tom and Katie had very different religious upbringings. Katie was Catholic and Tom became indoctrinated into the world of Scientology to the point of fanaticism. Scientology stems from science fiction author L.Ron Hubbard. Hubbard’s beliefs were driven by the theory that confidence in one’s own abilities was man’s only hope for success. I am not making this up! In Hubbard’s words he said,

There is only one security, and when you’ve lost that security, you’ve lost everything you’ve got. And that is the security of confidence in yourself; to be, to create, to make any position you want to make for yourself. And when you lose that confidence, you’ve lost the only security you can have. … Self-confidence is self-determinism. One’s belief in one’s ability to determine his own course. As long as one has that, he’s got the universe in his pocket. And when he hasn’t got that, not all the pearls in China nor all the grain and corn in Iowa can give him security, because that’s the only security there is.

Why World Views Matter

The Apostle Paul directed Christians to not marry non-believers (those who do not follow Jesus Christ 2 Cor 6:14), but why? Isn’t it enough to be great looking, and striving to be happy? If you look at Katie and Tom they are a hot looking couple with everything going their way! Why did Katie run from all the things that so many of us dream of having and achieving?

As amazing as all these achievements are, it boiled down to worldviews!

Tom’s commitment to Scientology has been seen for years and he has proclaimed his beliefs on many shows. Few know that Tom actually aspired to become a Catholic priest when he was younger, but when his acting career launched he never looked back. He placed Scientology in the spotlight and in 2005 everyone remembers the jumping couch episode on Oprah as he proclaimed his love for Katie.

Worldviews Impacted Child Rearing

Most articles are pointing to Tom and Katie’s daughter Suri as a primary driver in Katie’s leaving. Katie was in fear of Suri being indoctrinated into Scientology causing Katie to take drastic measures to protect Suri from Tom. Although there are many inconsistencies we go through as Christian parents, at least we have a clear playbook in the Bible on how to reach a consensus.

This is why it is so important to discuss religious beliefs with even a potential spouse. Doing so you can see if you are both in agreement on your beliefs and commitment to Jesus Christ. There is enough chaos in a Christian marriage without finding out you and your spouse don’t have the same belief systems! One of the only things that have kept my Wife April and I together was our common faith in Jesus Christ. There were days we awoke not wanting to be married anymore, but the common bond in Christ tied us together while we worked through our differences.

We all need to pray for Katie and Tom as they go their separate ways, but most of all I pray for salvation to come to Tom’s life.

What ideas and comments can you add to this topic?

Homesick


It has been an incredible week in Orlando as we promoted my book “Marriage Triage“. It as given me time to compare and take notes from some of the most gifted authors in the Christian community through the use of spotlight promotions and exclusive book signings. Authors such as Lysa TerkHeurst, and Oxford professors such as OS Guinness were in attendance. I even got to be around Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly, and actors such as Roma Downey, and Corbin Bernsen. My kids favorite song in the world is “My God’s Not Dead”, and I had a chance to see the Newsboys live at a small scale concert just for show attendees.

All of this adds up to “bucket list” material, and yet I would constantly catch myself staring into nothingness and wishing for something so simple, and so elementary. Even at the moment that I am writing this article I am 30,000 feet in the sky surrounded by beautiful cloud formations and landscapes that just scream of the greatness of God, and I cannot focus for more than a moment from this feeling of longing that comes over me. It’s the very thing that I can be critical with others over if I am not careful, almost shaming them for not wanting to get out of their comfort zone. What one thing could distract me at such moments when I am away from home, and in the presence of famous people and unlimited opportunities? The answer is that I am homesick.

Homesick

I love my wife April, and our children, Savannah and Noah. As busy as I may be, it is my desire to spend time with them and be there for all their special life events. I get frustrated that I cannot spend more unfettered time at home and I dream of my family being able to travel and enjoy these life happenings with me. I don’t want to miss a single moment of their life, and yet my words don’t always match my actions. Even as a Christian marriage and family author I sometimes struggle with spending time with family even when I am in their very presence. Distractions such as electronics, Twitter, Facebook, and any other social media can interfere and begin to take hold of precious moments they deserve.

Homesick for God

In our Christian walk, how many times do we get that homesick feeling to be in God’s presence? I know what some may say in the form of hollow cliches, but at the heart of your relationship with Christ, what are your actions showing? Are you paying lip-service to what should be an overriding need in every part of your life. Let’s face it! Jesus Christ is the only sole love of your life who will never look at you one day and say, “You are just too needy!” Jesus desires to have our craving and neediness because it points to a commitment you made to Him when you surrendered your life to Christ.

Now. Back to the times you feel homesick. The next time you are at a great and wonderful, “once in a lifetime”, “may never have another chance”, location or event I want you to do something. I want you to intentionally pause and begin to think about all that Christ has done for you, and how worthy He is of your life. Pray that God would give you a longing to be in God’s presence that would pre-occupy you even in those bucket list moments. Let it then cascade to your family and all the things that should be a priority in your life.

May God give us all the attitude of the Apostle Paul when he said,

But I am in a strait betwixt the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ; for it is very far better: yet to abide in the flesh is more needful for your sake. And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide, yea, and abide with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith; that your glorying may abound in Christ Jesus in me through my presence with you again. (Philippians 1:23-26 ASV)


Are You in a Biblical Dating Relationship?

by Stephen Goode

There are some basic questions for a Christian man or woman to answer in a dating relationship. These questions may be overlooked on numerous occasions, which is ironic because these inquiries will impact the relationship in every conceivable way! The reasons that these questions are not addressed are largely due to the fact that the wrong answer may deem it more fitting to end the relationship before it is too late.

Image from Glamquotes.com

Reasons These Questions are Overlooked

If you are afraid that this is your last shot at even a status quo decent boyfriend or girlfriend you may be prone to compromise and drift toward the marriage path. Maybe you are so afraid of being alone that you will rationalize away much of the unbiblical behavior you have observed in your relationship. It could be that there is such a strong physical attraction that you have allowed yourself to become dangerously attached. Usually by this point you may have even allowed intimacy to enter in, which leads to a whole new level of attachment which is very hard to control. The Bible addresses this when it speaks of not letting sin reign or reside in your life because you will get to the point you will obey what t says to do. (Rom 6:12)

The Question You Need to Ask Yourself

Is this relationship that you are in honoring Christ and drawing you closer to Him?

Do you regularly have to correct your boyfriend or girlfriend about their behavior because it is not the kind of actions that are accepted by a believer in Jesus Christ?

Are you now living with your boyfriend or girlfriend because of compromise?

Do you consistently have to stop your boyfriend or girlfriend from getting you physically aroused and engaging in the kind of acts only appropriate for a married couple?

Are you the only one who initiates any kind of spiritual activity in the relationship such as praying together and attending church?

Does your boyfriend or girlfriend constantly use profane or vulgar language without any apology around you? A sure sign of having no genuine respect for you.

Does your boyfriend or girlfriend keep promising to change certain behaviors only to gravitate back to the same old habits in a matter of time?

Even if your boyfriend or girlfriend claims to be a Christian, are their actions measuring up?

One big question this all leads to is the fact that you need to be certain you are in a relationship with a believer in Jesus Christ!

Why Does it Matter

I have heard more excuses and rationalizations for staying in a relationship, but I have also dealt repeatedly with the aftermath of the wrong decision both as pastor and policeman. You see, once you have said “I Do”, the covenant has been made, and there are very few biblical reasons to leave your marriage.

It matters biblically because we are instructed to marry only believers (2 Cor 6:14). Believers handle crisis and circumstances completely different from one another. We have completely differing world views because a non-believers will have no loyalty or commitment to Christ. It impacts how you will raise children, and how you will face adversity!

It matters because a non-believing spouse will pull the believing spouse down in their walk with Christ. In some cases I have seen wive’s literally resign themselves to being one with God because it will never happen with their husbands.

Slow Down!

If anyone is now panicked, I have good news! God loves and cares for you and you will never truly be alone. The Bible repeatedly gives us assurances that He will not leave us to our own devices if we trust in Him. Read some of God’s promises and pray that God would redirect you back into His real plan for your life. Start trusting Him once again before a ring is on your finger and it is too late. At that point you will have to adapt to your circumstances and live out the consequences of your sinful choices. If you are already at this place, God hasn’t left you! Never give up because God will never give up on you even when you sin!

Scriptures to Study

Psalm 37; Matt 14:31; Psalm 121; Psalm 46:1-2; Prov 3:5-6; Col 3:23; Eph 2:3-5; Gal 5:16