Why Do I Struggle To Forgive Myself? [Video]

All of us do wrong. Who among us is perfect?

When we fail God’s standard, some of us not only feel badly, we hate ourselves. We enter self-loathing. To cope, we self-medicate, indulge a lust, lie to ourselves about the wrong, or inflict pain on ourselves to pay for the sin.

However, the Apostle of love penned in 1 John 1:7,

“If we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light… the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

He then says in 1 John 1:9,

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Regardless of the past failures, as you confess these in the light, Jesus Christ is reliable and good. He will wipe clean any wrongs from your record.

What Does Winning the Lottery Have to Do With Marriage and Heaven? Part 2 [Video]

Though heavenly glory awaits us, there is a warning–a word of caution.

There are two types of Christ-followers who will enter this glorious eternal realm: The Rewarded Believer and the Unrewarded Believer. (If you are anything like me, you do not want to be the Unrewarded Believer.)

The Rewarded Believer

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:14, “If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward.”

He had just said in 1 Corinthians 3:8,  “Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor.”

What Does Winning The Lottery Have To Do With Marriage and Heaven? Part 1

Years ago, when I was a young boy, a radio station called my home at random as part of some marketing campaign and broadcast their recording live and on air. Because I answered the phone, the DJ informed me that I just won a prize. I won an African Violet plant! I was 10 years old.

At age 10, I had never won anything before. I couldn’t believe it. Others were always the winners, not me. Yet, that day it was me! I felt incredibly special.

The feeling I had at that moment was intense and joyful. I still remember it today, decades later. Interestingly, in my mind’s eye, I still see the small potted African Violet arriving at our home. For me. I was the recipient. The winner!

Do you recall the first time you won something?

I predict you have that moment etched in your mind. True? Reflect for a second. Can you pull back the memory of that first win? It could be a door prize at a party or a raffle ticket that had the winning number. Or, it could be the first prize awarded for best performance. You crossed the finish line first in the 100 yard dash or your solo violin piece delighted the judges and you received all the first place votes.

What recollection surfaces? I wager the delight of that honor still lingers as you reminisce.

What Does It Mean To Have Positive Regard Toward My Child? [Video]

We all know that a dad ought to love his daughter unconditionally. All would define love as unconditional. Love with “conditions” is not love at all.

But what about respect toward a teenage boy? Should mom show unconditional respect?

Many in the culture argue that a boy (or anyone) must earn respect. He must be respectable to be respected. To put it this way, if mom respects her disobedient boy, she will be respecting bad behavior and giving him license to disobey even more. Instead, she must give no such respect!

Listen to what some academics found that counters this. Scholars on the topic of respect found,

Why Does My Wife Want To Be So Close To Me? — Love and Respect Podcast Ep. 054

In this weeks episode Emerson and Jonathan examine the letter C, for Closeness, from the acronym C.O.U.P.L.E., which is how a husband can spell love to a wife (read more here). Through testimonies from wives, some commonly understood differences between most men and women, and biblical wisdom, Emerson unpacks this critical component for husbands to better relate to their wives.

Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE and on Stitcher HERE.

What Does It Mean For A Mom To Show Respect To Her Son? [Video]

A mom expresses,

“I live with a house full of male testosterone. We even had a male dog! I am having conflict with my 11 year old and it is driving me nuts. How do I show my boys that I can see through blue glasses and blue hearing aids? As you might be able to hear, I am trying to figure out this respect thing and am finding it kinda difficult. Getting a handle on this is something I want to do, but I am not sure how. I even had to look up the word respect to see what it really meant. I am in prayer about this.”

Mothers are humble and teachable. They long to give the best to their priceless boys! Yet, they stumble about in the dark on the definition of respect. They echo what this mother says: what in the world does respect look like? Here’s a simple definition:

A mother’s respect is her positive regard toward her son no matter what he does.

“But Emerson, how can you say no matter what? Everyone knows respect must be earned.  My son needs to earn my respect! In fact, he needs to respect me! Besides, how can I have positive regard when I feel so negative about him because of his disobedience?”

Who Is To Blame? Understanding Motivation in Your Marriage

A wife declares, “My husband causes my disrespect. I would not be so disrespectful if he were more respectable.”

A husband contends, “My wife causes my unloving reactions. I would not be so unloving if she were more lovable.”

At a certain point, Sarah and I learned that we do not cause each others’ hostility and contempt if and when it is shown. Instead we know and teach “my response is my responsibility.”

Who Is To Blame- Understanding Your Motivation in Your Marriage

In other words, the other person doesn’t cause us to be bad-tempered and rude; he or she only reveals our own decision to be this way.

Why Do Some People Hang On To Bitterness? — Love and Respect Podcast Ep. 053

Jonathan and Emerson look at the underlying reasons why people don’t let go of bitterness. Join them this week as they discuss what it means to have a forgiving spirit even in the most difficult of circumstances.

Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE and on Stitcher HERE.


02:23 – Big announcement!

03:55 – This is a topic many struggle with for many reasons. Is this your story?

06:52 – Our natural response to being hurt, but is there another way?

Three Ways To Murder Your Marriage, Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 of this 3-part series, we’ve been talking about the three ways to kill a marriage. If you haven’t read up on those posts, I would encourage you to do so before moving on to the conclusion below.

So, what are the three ways to murder a marriage?

Three Ways To Murder Your Marriage Part 3

1. Possess a self-serving motive that you disguise from everyone (except your lover, if you have one).

Make the case against your spouse as the one having impure motives, while you take the stand in your own favor that you have nothing but goodwill and a desire for God’s will.

You are the victim, always.

Then memorize Isaiah 5:20,

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

Three Ways To Murder Your Marriage, Part 2 [Video]

In Part 1, we began a discussion about the three ways one might go about for sabotaging, and ultimately killing their marriage: motive, means and opportunity.

We left the conversation with a question: In the event there is no adultery or desertion, can a person divorce for another reason?

The Apostle Paul addresses this based on the words of Jesus. Paul allows the innocent party to physically separate, but not divorce.

In 1 Corinthians 7:10,11 he writes,

“But to the married I give instructions, not I, but the Lord, that the wife should not leave her husband (but if she does leave, she must remain unmarried, or else be reconciled to her husband), and that the husband should not divorce his wife.”

By the way, women had the power to divorce. Contrary to today’s popular belief that women were powerless victims in Bible times, Jesus contradicts this when He declares in Mark 10:12,

“If she herself divorces her husband and marries another man, she is committing adultery.”

Three Ways to Murder Your Marriage, Part 1 [Video]

In the BBC television series set on the Caribbean island of St. Marie, Death in Paradise, the lead character, Chief Inspector Richard Poole, brilliantly cracks mystery murders. With his aspiring, ragtag team of investigators, he pursues three evidences pointing toward the guilty party: motive, means, and opportunity.

In the whodunit types, sex and money are usually the motive, though jealousy and revenge swirl about. However, any number of reasons can serve as a person’s motive to kill.

The means entail the ability to commit the murder. In other words, “the weapon of choice.” Was it a gun, knife, or poison? Nearly anything can be used to murder another person.

The opportunity is just that–at the time of the murder, did this person have the chance to kill the individual? Or did they have a solid alibi as to their whereabouts which blocked their opportunity to commit the murder?

How does this apply to the murder of a marriage?  As people get away with murder in real life, some seek to get away with the murder of their marriage by going undetected.

What is Your Motivation Behind Your Disrespect?

A wife wrote to me with her objections saying,

“Dr. E., because I care, I get disrespectful. My husband won’t listen to me otherwise. My love is behind my disrespect.”

However, I will argue that it is impossible for a wife’s love to be the motivating factor behind her disrespectful treatment of her husband.

The Bible says in 1 Corinthians 13:5 that love “does not dishonor others” (NIV). That verse is foundational to read. Love does not show disrespect to another human being. It is not rude. It does not act unbecomingly. It is not ill-mannered. Such habitual disrespect is toxic, not healthy or loving.

That does not mean a wife agrees and approves of unacceptable and sinful behavior. It means that she confronts the unacceptable actions in a firm and truthful way, but doing so under control and with respect toward the spirit of the other person, whether a husband, son, father, or male clerk who blotched the order.

Let me illustrate this between a mother and her son. Recently as I exited a grocery store, a mother and grandmother entered the store with a boy around 8 years old. As I glanced at them, suddenly they screamed and cursed at the boy in front of everybody. I looked at the boy to see what horrible thing he might be doing. He was 10 feet away from them on his tip toes looking at the pastry section! He could smell the cakes and donuts.

When Parenting: The Punishment Must Fit The Crime, Part 1 — Love and Respect Podcast Ep. 052

When disciplining our kids, we can learn something from the court system. The punishment must fit the crime. In Part 1 of a two-part series, Emerson and Jonathan look at how society handles punishment and how parents can use similar ideas in approaching and dealing with their children–not to punish or be punitive in parenting, but to correct in love.

Listen to the podcast HERE. Access it on iTunes HERE and on Stitcher HERE.


02:06 – How did this topic pop into Emerson’s head?

04:40 – Infraction, misdemeanor, and felony.

06:04 – Motivation and intent of the crime.

Do You Throw The First Stone? [Video]

A wife wrote to me saying,

“I’m trusting God to heal and restore my marriage and my family. I hurt them deeply. I’ve known my husband for over 32 years, been married nearly 24 years…

“I cheated and lied about my adultery…My husband sought after counseling for us in the clinical world and then through our church. I was consumed with guilt and shame during counseling and I didn’t trust God to help us. I knew he would be devastated, so I lied.  

“Six months after counseling my husband couldn’t live with me anymore because I was cold and unresponsive to him, so he moved in with a woman. I finally confessed my lies to him, but he said the damage was done. One year after living with this woman he moved back home, but has maintained his relationship with this woman to this day. It’s been such heartache to see my husband come and go to the other woman the way he does.

“He says it’s hard for him to let me go. He no longer hates me, but he doesn’t trust me… I understand that there’s no excuse or reason for what I did to my best friend, our marriage and our family that would make me cheat and lie to them.”

Let me paint this scenario for you: A husband and wife believe in Christ. However, the wife commits adultery and lies about it for months. She lies because her husband senses she is up to no good, so she must continue misleading him to think that nothing is happening.

When exposed, her unfaithfulness devastates her husband. Even so, he has already moved out to live with another woman! He ends up doing, in fact, what he supposed she was doing!

I find this to be so very odd.

They Say, “My Situation Is Complex, Beyond Love and Respect” [Video]

What should we say to the person who dismisses the Love and Respect approach to relationships by declaring their situation is too complex and the message is too simple?

First, seek to agree with the reality of difficult times. The Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:1-5,

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.”

Situations can be evil like a man who sexually abuses children. The devastation to the parents and children exceeded vocabulary to describe these “difficult times.” The stress on the marriages neared unbearable.