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ACCEPT THE CHALLENGE
Since my book Relationship Goals came out, I’ve been hearing from people all around the country and overseas about how it’s helping them turn their lives away from the shallow #RelationshipGoals they used to pursue and start aiming for the kinds of relationships that will help them live out a purposeful life. I’ve heard from teenagers who have never even been on a date and from couples who have been married for decades, from longtime churchgoers and from people who are far from God, and many more. They’re seeing change in their lives. They’re rediscovering love and unity in their relationships and being liberated to do what they were put on this planet to do.
It’s not because I’m so smart that these results are happening. (I’ve still got a lot to learn about relationships. Just ask my wife, Natalie.) What’s making the difference is that Relationship Goals is based on the Word of God, which was true long before social media existed and will be true long after anybody remembers what a hashtag is.
I’m so thankful God has allowed me to play some part in helping to turn around some relationships. But there is one request I’ve been getting a lot, and that is for help to put the key principles of Relationship Goals into practice over the long term. In other words, to create new habits that will solidify gains and prevent relationships from slipping back to the way they were before.
That’s where this book comes in.
Included are thirty Scripture-based messages that each end in a specific GO challenge—something for you to talk about or plan or do to improve your relationship. If you’ll do one GO challenge per day, that’s a month of new insights, key decisions, and fresh starts. Challenging, yes, but if you accept the challenge, it will help you meet your goals and win at relationship. It will take your relationship from good to great.
I deliberately applied my book Relationship Goals to all kinds of important relationships in our lives, including friendships, work relationships, and church relationships. It was for people who are single and for people who are involved in romantic relationships. This book, however, is more focused. Here I’m specifically talking to people who are in a romantic relationship and want to make it better.
So, let me ask . . .
Are you dating? You’re having fun hanging out with people and (I hope) exploring whether a particular person might be a godly marriage partner for you.
Or are you engaged? The big day is coming up. And meanwhile, maybe you’re thinking that before you enter the covenant of marriage, it would be a good idea to make sure the two of you are aligned with each other and aligned with God.
Or are you married (whether for the first time, second time, or so on)? I don’t care if you’re all glowing with newlywed bliss or you’ve been married for forty years and you think you know what the other person is going to say before she does. Married people need to shake up the status quo to seize what God has for them.
If you’re in any of those categories, this book is for you.
You’re not going to find much advice in here like “Stick a love note in his pocket for him to find later” or “Buy your wife flowers on the way home from work.” That’s all fine, but you can come up with stuff like that on your own. Am I right?
The thirty-day Relationship Goals Challenge gets into substantial issues. It’s going to help you find answers to questions like these:
- How does our love relationship affect who we’re becoming as individuals?
- How can my loved one and I communicate better?
- How are we going to fight when it comes to that?
- How do we find healing for deep-seated issues?
- What should our spiritual lives as individuals and as a couple look like?
- How can we build love for a lifetime?
I’ve grouped the challenges into three major themes that will be familiar to you if you’ve read Relationship Goals:
- PURPOSE: what God is calling you to do with your life in this season.
- HEALING: ’cause, bro, sis, you gotta deal with those issues you’ve got if you want to be released.
- ONENESS: that loving unity that makes relationships, especially the marriage covenant, so strong.
You can’t tell me that if you deal openly and honestly with all these topics, your relationship won’t be changed by the end of the thirty days. It will!
Freedom is coming!
Love is gonna build!
Victory is on the way!
Say it with me: “Victory!”
Oops, sorry, I got excited and started preaching. But I hope you’ve got the idea of what a big deal this thirty-day challenge is going to be for your relationship.
I hope you and your boo will read these challenges and discuss them together. But even if your partner isn’t interested in that, you as an individual can still read the book and the relationship will benefit.
Do you accept the challenge?
We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
DAY 1 INVITE HIM IN
Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.
When it comes to the marriage relationship, I used to assume that two people who are each at about 50 percent come together and in combination make 100 percent (or as close to it as they can get). It even seemed biblical because we’re told, “A man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one” (Genesis 2:24). In other words, I thought the marriage equation was 1/2 + 1/2 = 1. In my mind, that was why people call their spouses “my other half” and say things like “You complete me.”
Jerry Maguire is such a liar.
I’ve been married for over a decade now, but I realized early on that my original marriage equation was all wrong. The equation for marriage is really this: 1 + 1 + 1 = 1.
Are you currently questioning everything you learned in second-grade math class? Let me help you. One whole man plus one whole woman plus God in their midst creates one healthy marriage.
If you’re dating seriously or engaged, God should be in the middle of that relationship too. What’s different is that you don’t have a marriage covenant together. But God still wants to be the center and the source of unity for the two of you. If you’re headed for marriage, know that you’re supposed to be entering into a 1 + 1 + 1 relationship.
No matter what your official relationship status (married, engaged, dating, it’s complicated), it’s important for the health of the relationship that you’ve been working on yourself, trying to make yourself the best you that you can be. Hopefully your partner has been doing the same. But even more important is the presence of the Third Member in the relationship. God’s participation makes it possible for the man to fulfill his purposes, for the woman to fulfill her purposes, and for the relationship to fulfill its purposes.
Let’s go back to marriage because I want to create a visual in your mind.
A godly marriage is like a triangle. First, the husband and wife are connected at the bottom of the triangle. When this is done in marriage, this is a beautiful connection, an honored connection, one that is intended to bring life to both people. From day one of their marriage, a wife and husband are bound together in a holy covenant. The bond is intended to last for a lifetime, and they will hopefully be strengthening their connection and enjoying the rewards of it for as long as they live.
But there’s another part of the triangle. God is at the top, with each of the marriage partners spiritually connected to Him (assuming they’re both believers in Jesus). This gives them another way to be connected—through God. And look at this: it’s a geometric and spiritual truth that as each partner draws closer to God, each one is also drawing closer to the other. The fact that God is in the middle of that marriage is the key to their getting the relationship win.
Again, God should be in the middle of any godly relationship. When you’re going out or chillin’ at home with your bf/gf, God is on the date too. If you’re in that engagement period where you’re working on merging two lives into one, God is watching to see how you prepare for the marriage triangle.
Now, this triangle thing is probably not an entirely new idea to you, especially if you’ve read Relationship Goals. But let me ask you something: Have you two, as a couple, ever actually invited God into the midst of the relationship? Maybe it hasn’t occurred to you to do that. Or maybe you’ve just assumed He would automatically be there so you didn’t need to pay any attention to Him.
Or maybe once (like at your wedding) you did consciously ask God to be at the center of your relationship, but since then you’ve mostly forgotten about it.
If you’ve been more or less ignoring God’s role in your relationship lately, then I can assure you that the persistent knocking sound you hear is Jesus at the door of your hearts, telling you He wants to come in. All you’ve got to do is turn the knob and say, “Hey there, Lord! C’mon in!”
My wife, Natalie, and I have found that there’s a big value in consciously committing or recommitting a relationship to Christ’s lordship. Today could be the day when you drive a stake into the spiritual ground and, together, ask God to be the leading figure, the guide, and the unifying power in your relationship. (When I talked in the introduction about taking action to solidify gains and prevent relationships from slipping back to the way they were before, this was just the kind of thing I was talking about.)
So here’s your first—and most important—challenge: invite God into your relationship. This might just give you a change in perspective that helps you see your relationship in a whole new way from here on out.
- What areas of your relationship have you been keeping God out of? And why have you been doing that?
- Are you prepared for changes that might have to happen when God takes His rightful place at the center of your relationship? Why or why not?
Spend time in prayer together with your significant other, inviting God to take control of your relationship and to guide and bless you in it.
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