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Tag Archives: Marci Preheim

The Gospel and Sex

'Mazzali: SWEET bed' photo (c) 2007, Mazzali - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/We’ve talked on the blog before about pre-marital counseling, and I’ll be writing about it again soon. One of the facets of most counseling sessions is a conversation on sex. Maybe we talk about the purpose of it, what inhibits it, how we use it to negotiate or how we come to it selfishly. Frequently, though, sex is separate from our other gospel-centered marriage counseling. I know I’ve read plenty of articles or book chapters meant to motivate me to serve my husband through sex. These things might work for a time, but I’ve realized they only go so deep. We know we should do it, but the “why” is left at “because he needs it,” and the “how” is “by being open and vulnerable and willing.”

But these statements leave us still wanting something deeper. I can’t muster up the courage to be vulnerable and open with my husband. I can tell myself I need to, but that only makes it harder, stacking feelings of guilt on top of each other and making it even more impossible to be vulnerable.

My dear friend, Marci, wrote a fantastic article about this topic that is a must-read–whether you’re engaged to be married, newlyweds, or married for years. Even for teens it’s a great description of the purpose and beauty of sex.

Here’s one quote that captures the angst we often feel as we look at sex in marriage:

Christian couples want to be uninhibited with each other but it’s not safe. We have perverted what God intended to be pure and we’re not quite sure how to go back. Both husbands and wives long to return to the garden of Eden when the two could be naked together and unashamed, but our sin keeps getting in the way, marring our marriage beds with shame and mistrust.

I encourage you to take the time to read this post today–it is joyful and freeing good news!

Gospel-Centered Sex? by Marci Preheim

In-Law Week: Wrapping it Up

We’ve reached the end of the series on in-law relationships. Thank you so much to all who contributed to this series. Today I’m just going to post links to the various posts and resources, and then leave us with a few quotes and thoughts from friends.

First, what’s the purpose of this relationship?

What’s the Goal?

Here are three guest posts and one extra link on showing grace and the love of Christ to our in-laws (relevant for every relationship):

Guest Post by Kim Shay, whose mother-in-law was instrumental in her conversion

Guest Post by Rachel Lonas, who didn’t fit her mother-in-law’s expectations, but was shown love and grace anyway

Guest Post by Kyle Castro, whose in-laws gave him a second chance at family

The Generosity of Centered Love, by Beth Impson

Then, some thoughts on what causes these relationships to get off to a rough start:

How Do We Go Wrong?

But what about those relationships that just aren’t working? Is there hope?

Guest Post by Marci Preheim – for when your marriage isn’t big enough for the three of you

Finally, here are some thoughts from a few friends about their relationships with their in-laws:

On the Initial Meeting:

My first encounter with my MIL was me taking the first step in writing my future in laws a short thank you note telling them how grateful I was to them for raising my husband in a godly home and with character that I admired and had come to love. I told them that I had been praying for a man like him and was really looking forward to meeting them (Was invited up to MI for Thanksgiving) Not sure what prompted me to do that other than I really did feel grateful and wanted to express it to them. Anyway, when I got there she welcomed me with a huge hug and seemed genuinely happy to see me. When she showed me the room she had set up for me, there was a gift bag with a blanket, a light sweater and some University of Michigan slippers. (She thought since I was coming from FL, that I might be cold since I wasn’t used to the weather.) – Theresa

On TV Viewing and In-Law Relationships:

Daughter-in-Law: You need to IGNORE hat the world says about MIL’s, block “Everybody Loves Raymond” on TV, it will only poison you towards your MIL. You may be landing a great MIL, sometimes that relationship just takes time to blossom! 

Mother-in-Law:  Be patient. Watch “Everybody Loves Raymond” and vow to NEVER EVER be like Marie. Wait for your DIL to ask for your advice, or start up conversations and see if it leads to her asking you for help/advice. – Melissa

On Bringing Together Families:

I always keep the story of Ruth in my mind & on my heart—-especially on the bad days. I included verses from Ruth in my wedding vows that I wrote: “your people shall be my people”. I meant that when I said that to my husband almost 33 years ago. – Wanda

I hope this series has been an encouragement to others, as I know it has to me. I’m still irrational about giving up my son one day. But at the end of the day, he was never mine to begin with. I’m so thankful for the love of Christ that draws us into His family and brings strangers together. Our physical families may never be close and our in-law relationships may be fraught with pain. But His bride–the church–is our eternal family. And He is our brother, our friend, our bride-groom and our savior. What joy there is in knowing Him!

 

This Marriage Ain’t Big Enough For the Three of Us: Guest Post by Marci Preheim

Up until now, the guests posts featured during In-Law Week have all been positive accounts, detailing how each writer’s in-laws showed grace and the love of Christ to their new family members. This was undoubtedly not always easy, especially considering how each person did not exactly fit the mold of their new family’s expectations. 

But maybe you’ve been reading and you’re thinking, “That is not my experience at all. I’m trying and trying to love, but it’s a one-way street and I’m exhausted.” Today’s post is for you. My guest today (and precious friend), Marci Preheim, shares some loving, grace-filled wisdom for how to handle those intense in-law relationships (or ANY difficult relationship). 

Romans 12:18 says this: “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” The first two clauses in this verse speak volumes. They reveal this truth: 1) it is not always possible to live at peace with everyone, and 2) you cannot control other people’s behavior. You can only control your own.

This little verse has brought comfort to many young newlyweds who have found themselves in a surprisingly difficult in-law relationship. My best-friend (I’ll call her Jane) and I used to joke that, until we got married, we had never met anyone that we could not MAKE like us. We used to flip our hair back, look in the mirror together and laugh: “What’s not to like about me?” Even though we were being facetious (and obnoxious), there was some truth to our jesting. You cannot MAKE someone love you.

I suspect there is very little written about the difficulties of in-law relationships in Christian circles because no one wants to dishonor their parents or their spouse’s parents. After all, most writers write about what they know—what they have learned from experience. Many articles I have read about in-law relationships sum it all up with an exhortation for mutual love, and boundary setting. They give examples of Christ-centered respectful relationships that we should all pattern our lives after. For those who have exhausted every effort to live at peace with their in-laws to no avail, these exhortations are like a dull knife to an already sensitive wound.

Jane’s mother-in-law is one of those ladies in the church who cooks and serves and has people over for dinner and spoils children with sweets and gifts. Everyone loves her. There was a little evidence during the wedding planning that mom-in-law had a controlling side. She gave her opinion much too readily and could snap your head off without warning. Jane wrote it off as wedding stress. Things settled down after the wedding. It was smooth sailing. . .until babies came along.

All of a sudden a tolerable relationship turned unbearable. Jane and her husband had moved six-hours away from his parents (which was a crime in itself), but when babies came along so did the expectations. Mom-in-law decided she was going to visit every six weeks and stay for a week each time so she and her grandbaby would be close. This was hard on Jane, but she wanted to honor her mother-in-law. Gradually with more visits, came more expectations. Jane began to feel like she and her husband were just two more children for his mom to parent.

Men don’t often see the complexities of female relationships. Jane’s husband thought his wife could use the help and he enjoyed having his mom’s cooking and affection. His mom behaved well when he was around, but when he wasn’t, she was cold and critical to Jane. She made Jane feel like she was an unworthy mom, wife, and person for that matter. She unapologetically slandered Jane to other family members. Jane felt guilty for not wanting her around. When she broached the subject with her husband, he suggested that she might be over-reacting. He urged her to be selfless, grateful for the help, and asked her to keep the peace. After all it was only one week out of every six.

I can almost hear the female voices of those reading this article. Trust me, every word of advice that is about to drop out of your mouth, Jane has tried. What do you do when you have done everything possible, as far as it depends on you, to live at peace with your in-laws? The more Jane sacrificed, humbled herself, kept quiet, the more intrusive mom-in-law became.

When we talk, in Christian circles, about loving one another and sacrificing for one another, what does that mean? Should Jane honor her mother-in-law by letting her take leadership over her home once every six weeks? Are we commanded, as Christians, to let other people take control of our lives for the sake of peace? There is not time to sacrifice to this extent for everyone in our family, in the church, in the world. How much sacrifice is enough?

In my own (much less severe) relationships with extended family, I have had to take refuge in the Lord. I have had to cling to Him as my rock and my salvation (Psalm 62:6). There are times when I have felt such immense pressure to do something, and yet when I ran to the Lord, His word said: Wait. . .wait. . .wait! “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him. . . Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.”

Dealing with in-laws (or any difficult relationship for that matter) cannot be remedied with a simple command to love and sacrifice for others. Most of the time, these relationships reveal our utter inability to do so. Our confusion should drive us to the cross—to the only One who ever truly loved sacrificially. James gives us this invitation in his epistle: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). The hard part is waiting for the answer and believing it will come.

I don’t have to give communication tips or a flow chart of who’s responsible to talk to who about what. In difficult circumstances people naturally pull out every tool in their arsenal of wisdom—human or spiritual. Sometimes Christians act in the power of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes they explode with their own impatience. We do anything to escape suffering. At the end of all this striving and effort a sweet surrender to the Lord can be found. It is the moment you cry uncle and hand it over. It may be a moment by moment surrender, but it is the kind of surrender that trusts that someone else sees the situation. Someone else has the power to fix it but has chosen, for some good reason, not to. Someone else will care for me until it is fixed. I don’t have to do anything.

I give the same counsel that the Psalmist gave to himself: “Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. . .My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. . .Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge” (Psalm 43:5, Psalm 62:1, 8).

Marci 19Marci Preheim was born in Lincoln, Nebraska but moved to Hollywood, California as a teenager. It was there, at the age of 21, that she came to know the Savior through the ministry of a local church. Within a couple of years of her conversion she became involved in a women’s prison ministry and discovered her passion for sharing the gospel publicly. Marci has been married to Arnie Preheim since August of 1993. Shortly after their marriage, Arnie and Marci moved to Nashville, Tennessee. They have 2 children, Brock (born in 1995) and Paige (born in 1998). Marci regularly teaches the women’s Bible study at Community Bible Church. For ten years, she has also led a monthly chapel service for women at the Nashville Rescue Mission (Hope Center for female recovering addicts). You can find more of her writing at marcipreheim.com and in her book, Super(free)Woman: From Fundamentalist to Failure to Faith.

Radical or Normal? Or Neither?

'Old Globe' photo (c) 2007, Kenneth Lu - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

Update: The article referenced below is now featured on the World Magazine website. It was written by Anthony Bradley.

Recently I have been reading critiques of what some are calling the new legalism of being “radical” or “missional.” One writer suggests young adults are constantly under guilt and pressure to do something amazing for God. He states this leads to a new culture of narcissism and shame within the church. Are you radical enough? Are you doing enough? Or have you settled for a conventional, suburban life?

I get what he’s saying, and I have struggled with this in my own heart. I wonder if I’m doing enough. Am I sacrificing enough? Am I wasting my life? Should we move from the suburbs? Should we move overseas? What am I doing? It quickly becomes legalism, and I judge others by the same standards, or even stricter ones. Why do they live in such a big house? Why don’t they go on mission trips? Legalism is exactly the word for it.

The solution given by some of these writers is a “normal life.” We’re told we just need more people content to live a normal, suburban life. We need people who have kids, grow the church through our children and just live faithfully. We don’t have to leave our current context, but should stay here and serve and love where we are.

But then I have conversations like one I had with a young friend today. She has dreamed of going overseas for years and desires to start an orphanage or some sort of orphan care ministry. But she knows there’s a mission field right here in Nashville–right out her suburban front door, in her school, at her workplace, even in our church. So she almost feels a little guilty for going overseas, as if she’s saying the mission field here isn’t good enough or big enough or radical enough.

This is what happens when we bounce from extreme to extreme. Either everyone should move to the ghetto or overseas, or everyone should be content to live in the suburbs. I don’t think anyone would actually say those words, but when we react to one idea so strongly, we risk this effect.

In essence, we leave out one important component–the Holy Spirit.

When my husband and I were actively praying about and pursuing a possible adoption of a child with special needs, many people thought we were crazy. This particular need scares many people, but it didn’t scare us at all. And this isn’t because we’re super-human. It’s because the Lord had clearly put this on our hearts. It just seemed obvious. Other families who adopt kids with other needs seem crazy to me. I can’t imagine doing what they do. But I get it–it’s not radical to them; it’s just where their hearts are.

When we tell people they don’t have to move overseas to be missionaries, we’re right. But let’s not quench what the Spirit may be doing in their hearts. And when we say everyone could move to the ghetto or work overseas, this might be true too. You could do it. But let’s not mistake the possibility for a commandment. It could be we are called to be right where we are.

Either way, the Great Commission is for all of us. “All the world” includes suburban Nashville and outer Mongolia. The mission is the same, but the placement is up to the Holy Spirit. I have to remember, Jesus gave His followers the Great Commission, then gave them instructions to wait until the Holy Spirit came upon them. It’s all Spirit-powered.

We can tell one another, “You don’t have to do this,” but let’s not forget that it might be just what we have to do–just what the Spirit has put in our hearts to do. This is what it means to abide in Christ (John 15). If we’re there, abiding, we will bear fruit. We can’t do it apart from the vine. My friend Marci says, “As we draw near to Christ He bears the fruit through us. We can dream big as we think about how we would like to participate in the kingdom of God, but we have to let the Lord put us there.”

So I pray we will come alongside each other, praying for the Spirit’s guidance and power in directing each of our paths. May we encourage those serving in the suburbs as well as those in the inner cities or undisclosed locations. May we not assume our passion is from us, but instead given to us uniquely by a loving God who graciously created us for this very purpose–proclaiming His gospel for His glory. May we celebrate and encourage those with other gifts and pray as they use them by the Spirit’s power. May we focus on international missions and local missions–may one fuel the other, in a cycle of excitement and rejoicing at the power of our great God.

Wherever we are, let us love. And let us assume nothing–the gospel is for each of us, every day of our lives.

What I’m Reading

Now that I’m not busy writing a book, I’ve been enjoying some extra time to read several I’ve had on the shelf for a while. So I thought I’d list a few that have been particularly great, as well as a few I’m in the middle of or hoping to read soon.

Super(free)Woman: From Fundamentalist to Failure to Faith – by Marci Preheim. I’ve mentioned this one on the blog before, and am hoping to have a full review up eventually. If you’re looking for something to give the mother(s) in your life for Mother’s Day, give them the gift of freedom. Freedom from the pressures placed upon women by other women. Freedom from conformity to outside rules and expectations. Freedom from enslavement to the opinions of others. I love this quote from the book: “Depending on Christ’s righteousness is the joyful alternative to human achievement. The beauty of the gospel is realized in the humility that admits we have nothing to offer–no righteousness to bring. We know this, but don’t live it in front of each other. Instead we try to prove the opposite. Covering our sin and wearing a mask of external righteousness, we fool others into thinking we are godly.” The book is accessible and honest–Preheim pulls no punches, but lands them with love and grace. It’s as if you’re sitting across from her–something I’ve been privileged to do in our church body–and she is lovingly exhorting you to abide in Christ and rest in Him. Get it, read it, buy one for all your friends. Seriously.

Delighting in the Trinity: An Introduction to the Christian Faith by Michael Reeves. This one is so good. I wish I could have read it years ago. The wit, beauty and joy with which it is written makes the author’s excitement contagious to the reader. It takes me a while to read books, but I picked this one up on a Tuesday and finished it on Thursday.

The Freedom of Self Forgetfulness by Tim Keller. Coming in at just 45 pages, this is a great one for the busy reader. Keller builds a case for the believer to think of himself less (not think less of himself), using Paul’s words from I Cor. 3:21-4:7. Not only does Keller diagnose the problem, something at which he is incredibly gifted. He also graciously and lovingly points out the solution.

Because He Loves Me: How Christ Transforms Our Daily Life by Elyse Fitzpatrick. In two parts, Fitzpatrick looks at how God’s love transforms both our identities and our lives. I have about half of this book underlined, so it is hard to come up with quotes or highlights. But this is a freedom-granting, Christ-exalting book from the heart of a writer who wants her readers to know the deep, amazing love of the Father for His adopted children, and the Son for His bride.

Suburbianity: What Have We Done to the Gospel? Can We Find Our Way Back to Biblical Christianity? – by Byron Yawn. Byron is my pastor. I know his heart for his church, and this book was written as a cry for us–suburban Christians in the heart of the Bible belt–to recognize that what we think is Christianity is actually “suburbianity.” Living in Nashville, we get it. There are more churches than trees. He writes, “You can’t assume people are less needy of the gospel if a church happens to be on every corner. Chances are they’ve never actually heard the gospel.” This is true here, even where everyone goes to church and claims to be a Christian. Byron’s heart is to awaken the church to a vibrant understanding of the true gospel–and understanding that compels us to go next door to our affluent suburban neighbors and actually share the gospel with them. It’s happening in my church, and it’s beautiful and exciting.

*Full disclosure–if you buy one of these books from the links on this page, I will get a tiny profit, further feeding my book addiction. If you would like to support said addiction, feel free to use these links. If you want to free me from the addiction, you might not want to use them.

So what are you reading right now, or what would you recommend I read next?

My Must-Reads in 2013

marci

I am looking forward to several new books, many from first-time authors, to be published in 2013. Many of these authors are friends, either from “real life” or “blog life,” and they have all encouraged me in their writing this past year. I’ll attempt to list these in order of anticipated release:

Gospel Amnesia – blogger Luma Simms’ first book comes out in just a couple of weeks (Jan. 15). I will post more on this later, no doubt, but be on the lookout for this writer’s account of the powerful effects of grace in her life.

Super(free)Woman: From Fundamentalist to Failure to Faith (Volume 1) – my friend Marci Preheim has written this excellent book, subtitled “From Fundamentalist to Failure to Faith.” Based on two Bible studies she has taught the women in our local church family, this message has freed myself and so many women to serve God not out of our own efforts based on guilt, but instead as a natural outflow from our position of abiding in Christ. I will be posting a longer review of this book in a few weeks when it is available for purchase on Amazon.

Suburbianity: What Have We Done to the Gospel? Can We Find Our Way Back to Biblical Christianity? – this book by my pastor, Byron Yawn, asks the questions, “What have we done to the gospel?” and “Can we find our way back to biblical Christianity?” I always enjoy Byron’s writing, but even more love his heart to shepherd and love his flock to something beyond ourselves and our rampant narcissism. This one is due out on April 1st.

Glimpses of Grace: Treasuring the Gospel in Your Home – blogger and author Gloria Furman has been such a huge encouragement to me as I’ve labored in my writing, but even more importantly I have been greatly encouraged and challenged by her reflections on the “mundane” aspects of life on her blog, Domestic Kingdom. This book encourages us to treasure the gospel in our homes, and I am so excited to read it when it comes out at the end of May.

There are many other great titles due out in 2013, but these are just a few on my radar so I wanted to share them with you. Please join with me in praying for these authors–for trust in the Lord’s sovereign control over who will read the books, and for faith that He will use the message as He wills.

What books are you looking forward to in 2013?