UpBuilding Men, Women, and Children in Practical Christianity

August 2009 Monthly Letter

I just got off the phone with Barb, a secretary from a church in Indianapolis. She had invited me to lead a Marriage Retreat in April near Madison, IN. Here is what she excitedly reported:

One of the couples who attended, serves as missionaries in Bangladesh. They were home on furlough because of some marriage difficulties. John, the pastor of the church and his wife, Doreen, had been counseling them and invited them to attend the Retreat. They prayed that they would indeed come, but did not expect them to do so because 3 weeks prior the wife had filed for a divorce.

As Barb spoke, I did remember this couple as they arrived late. I had observed how John and Doreen had a "beaming look of glee" on their faces as they saw them enter. The theme of the retreat was Philippians 2:4 "Let each of you look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others."

I challenged each couple to memorize this verse, say it out loud together at each session, and to pray it out loud with their mate like this: "Lord, today let me look not only to my own interests BUT also to the interests of (spouse's personal name.")

The sessions' topics were:

"Learning to Love My Mate in the Ways He or She Most Desires",

"How to Have a Good Fight",

"How to Be Angry without Sinning",

"What the Bible Really Says about Sex",

"C.H.O.I.C.E.S. We Make and Their Consequences", and

"Becoming One in Christ."

The style I use is "Teach and Apply!" Jesus said, "Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and who do it." Like food, the Word is "living and active" but must be eaten to nourish. Each teaching session is immediately followed by a specific time for each couple to get alone, discuss what the Lord said to each in the session, and then begin to apply the teaching. Hence, the blessings come!

During the Saturday sessions, this couple sat at the front table closest to me. I even recall involving them in a few role playing situations. (Do you see the Spirit at work in so many ways: the prayers of pastor John and Doreen, the Philippians 2:4 prayer at each session, each of the topics, the place they chose to sit, and the times alone to discuss and apply the Word.) Oh, the mystery and power of the Holy Spirit at work!

Barb concluded her joyous report with the restoration of this marriage and this couple's plan to return to the mission field repented, reconciled, renewed, refreshed, and recommitted to one another and to God's call on their lives!

I couldn't wait to tell you how the Lord uses you and me in this Ministry of UpBuilding others, even missionaries, in ways we are not always aware of. Praise Him, the power of His Word, and the Healing that comes when that Word is applied! May this good report bless you as it indeed has blessed me.

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