Building on his previous book Relationship Goals, Pastor Michael breaks down, in detail, what it takes to achieve a successful faith-based relationship.
Feeling tired of romantic relationships with no purpose—or looking to put more spark in your long-term love? Pastor Michael Todd draws on the themes of Relationship Goals to give you a month of biblically rich “let’s go deeper” challenges designed just for couples.
We’re not talking simple date ideas or tips on what flowers to buy. We’re talking daily Scripture, intentional questions, and victorious outcomes as you get real about seeking God’s goals for you individually and together.
As Michael looks at three key values of romantic relationships—purpose, healing, and oneness—he helps you find answers to questions like these:
• How can we communicate with greater intentionality?
• How does our relationship affect who we’re becoming as individuals?
• How are we going to fight well, with our greater purpose in mind?
• How do we find healing for deep-seated issues?
• How do our spiritual lives affect our life as a couple?
Take the next thirty days to create new habits that will set you down solidly on the road to meeting your relationship goals. At the end of this month-long challenge, you can look back on the goals you’ve already met and set new ones to look forward to. So get ready to win in relationship . . . together. Do you accept the challenge?
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|Publisher:||The Crown Publishing Group|
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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.
Notes on issues we discussed, plans we made, and things we believe God is saying to us:
Day 2 Thirsty for God
O God, you are my God;
I earnestly search for you.
My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you
in this parched and weary land
where there is no water.
When you’re trying to decide what movie to see on date night or how to load the dishwasher or whatever, you might not be thinking too much about your purpose. But I’ve got news for you—good news. God’s had a purpose for you since before you were born.
Does that mean God has a purpose in what you do on a Friday night or in how you clean the kitchen? Yes, in a way. When we have a clear target for our purpose as individuals and our purpose as a dating or married couple, it affects everything we do.
Paul the apostle told us, “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” (Ephesians 2:10).
So, first of all, let me tell it to you straight: if you’re dating someone and what you’re doing together or talking about or dreaming about wouldn’t fall in the category of “good things,” you need to reevaluate your activities. In fact, if your significant other isn’t a part of your doing anything significant, it might be time to move on. (See chapter 5, “Does It Need to End?” in Relationship Goals.)
But what if you’re in a more committed relationship? How can you look together toward the dreams God has for you? And here’s the really amazing question: How can you as a couple live out God’s purpose in even bigger ways than you could as individuals?
God doesn’t leave us hanging when it comes to discovering His big ideas for our lives. Psalm 119:105 tells us that the Bible is “a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” God wants us to find Him. He wants us to know those good things He has in mind for us. After all, we can’t hit our relational targets without knowing what they are.
So I’m telling you: Get into God’s Word. Alone. Together. Online or audio or reading your granddaddy’s leather Bible. Don’t worry about how your mama or your best friend or the preacher down the street reads her Bible; just figure out something that works for you.
The important thing is that you’re spending time getting to know God through His Word and prayer, because that’s how you discover His purpose for you. Just like when you get to know someone new to your family. You spend time with him, you hear his stories, you learn what he likes and what he can’t stand. The more you get to know him, the more you know automatically what’s going to make him sad or mad or merry like Christmas. You learn the person’s character.
I can tell you right now that you will never know God completely. Why would we want to worship a God we could figure out? The more I know about God, the more I realize how much I have left to know. And that’s okay with me.
The same thing goes for knowing our purpose. As we spend time with God, we get a better idea of His big plans for us. We see more clearly how our marriage or dating relationship fits into those plans. We see enough to get excited. We see enough to trash what isn’t fitting with God’s dreams. We see enough to want more.
I tell single people who are thirsty for a relationship, “Be thirsty for God. If God’s not enough for you, no person ever will be.” When you’re in a relationship, you should stay thirsty for God.