My dads book on marriage
Hey guys, I'm excited to have a guest blog post from my dad Mike Rizzo. My dad and mom have been in ministry as long as I can remember and have been on staff here at IHOP for over five years. Their main role for the past several years has been leading the marriage ministry; doing pre maritial, counseling people, and just investing into the lives of many young (and old) people here at IHOP.
My dad has just released his first book on marriage called "Longing for Eden: Embracing God's vision in your marriage." I encourage you to check it out whether you're married, single, young, or old! Below is an excerpt from his book. You can pick up his book here.
Guest blog post by Mike Rizzo
Vision in Marriage
There are three visions needed in every marriage, each one an important ingredient to have the fullness God desires. “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint.” (Proverbs 29:18) “Where there is no word from God, people are uncontrolled.” (NCV)We need the power of vision.
To contrast its’ vital importance, consider life without it.
"Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord GOD, "That I will send a famine on the land, Not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the LORD, but shall not find it. (Amos 8:11-12)
God often speaks the loudest by withholding His words. He needs to prepare a heart to receive them. Thus, hunger is a good friend. Many couples are desperate to feel better in their marriages, argue less, and live a comfortable lifestyle. Few are desperate to hear the word of the Lord.
The first vision is the sense of calling or destiny that the Lord places on each marriage. Some couples marry with a vision to go into ministry, begin a business, adopt children, or any other number of things, large or small. Some learn what this vision is during courtship, others, not until after they marry. If you have not yet discovered God’s unique vision for your marriage, I encourage you to make it a matter of prayer and ask Him: "Lord, what is it that You have called us to do together?" Recognizing that He has a unique destiny for our marriage energizes us and helps to solidify purpose and mutual commitment.
I met my wife Anne at Elim Bible Institute, in Upstate New York. I had just returned from a two year missionary assignment in the Philippines and my plans were to, a) find a wife, and b) get some Bible training. (Not necessarily in that order.) It was a relatively small school, three to four hundred maybe, so it was fairly easy to get acquainted with the single female students. I was twenty five at the time and desired to find a mature woman; my age or perhaps a little older.
I had one major criterion. My vision was to return to the Philippines; thus I had to have a wife that was willing to leave home and country and follow me to the ends of the earth! Long story short, I found such a woman and she has been an excellent partner in ministry. We never did go to the Philippines by the way; but she was willing to embrace the vision in my heart. A few years into the marriage brought other ministry assignments and we ended up remaining in pastoral ministry in our hometown area of Buffalo, New York for twenty years.
The internal side of this first vision is everyone’s destiny – personal transformation. “Spiritual growth is the main theme; marriage is simply the context.” (Gary Thomas, Sacred Marriage, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000), 26.) We are all called to grow in love and be more like Jesus. Sharing a corporate vision as a married couple keeps the relationship moving; sharing the vision for inner change keeps the relationship maturing.
Secondly, we need a vision for longevity in our marriage. It is important to recognize how we view marriage. The culture we live in promotes a selfish, man-centered, view. We have lived in this culture since birth therefore it has undoubtedly affected our thinking concerning many things, marriage included. When we came into His kingdom culture, we began the “renewing of our mind” in so many areas. We most certainly need to rid ourselves of any of this culture’s attitudes and lies concerning marriage and acquire a godly perspective. Being a Christian married to a Christian will not automatically mean that our marriage will be a God-centered one.
For this reason it is important to stop and examine our hearts on the subject of permanency in marriage. The man-centered view will cause us to maintain our marriage as long as our expectations are met. The God-centered view will cause us to take seriously the covenant we made before Him on our wedding day. Our marriage gaze must remain fixed in this regard. Longevity is fueled by intimacy.
Why would a man or a woman NOT want to continue living with the spouse to whom they declared their vows? One reason is the loss of intimacy. When intimacy is lacking we are made susceptible to adulterous thoughts; as in the natural, so in the spiritual. People become weary with their spouse and with their Savior, when regular experiences of closeness become less frequent. “Joyful intimacy with God is the great power source of the kingdom of God”. (Mike Bickle, After God’s Own Heart, (Lake Mary: Charisma House, 2004), 113.
Other “options” become appealing, couched in acceptable attire by the “angel of light.” Thus the enemy will lead us to rationalize that it’s really not that bad, we deserve to be happy, and we are lulled into lethargy; until that is, he offers us the shiny new option! Sadly, the cycle is prone to repeat itself.
Along with destiny, and longevity, we need to embrace the vision of eternity. Marriage is not eternal, but its fruit is. This truth needs to move from our heads to our hearts. All that we build in our lives as individuals and couples will be tested by fire on the Day of the Lord. There will be positive and negative fruit.
“If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:14 -15)
This is an intense reality! Personally, I want to be alert to this. How I live my life in and through my marriage will affect the quality of my eternity. What you and I build on the foundation of Christ in our lives will result either in reward or loss for ALL ETERNITY! Living in light of eternity should impact the choices that we make from day to day.
© 2012 Michael Rizzo