The Love, Joy, Peace Workbook: A Couple’s Bible Study
Steph Nickel shares how she and her hubby have enjoyed the “Love, Joy, Peace Workbook as a couples Bible study.
Love, Joy, Peace
My hubby and I have been hit and miss about doing a devotional together on a regular basis. Currently, we are working through Chris Loehmer Kincaid’s The Christmas Story in 40 Days. The devotionals are brief, but ‘tis the season. Plus, developing a good habit in increments is a great way to make it stick.
And when I saw Kim Bowen’s The Love, Joy, Peace Workbook: A Couple’s Bible Study online, I thought it would be a great next step.
True Confession Time
True confession time. After reading the introduction, I wasn’t convinced we were going to get a lot out of the book. Thankfully, God has most mercifully taught us many of the lessons it seemed were included in the book. After all, we have been married over 37 years. I’m incredibly thankful I’m not the same person I was when I was 21. I’m sure Dave feels the same way, but he is too gracious to say so.
A portion of the introduction reads like this:
After that experience [the author wanted out of her marriage], and as a professional marriage therapist, I’ve given a lot of thought to why couples divorce. Taking mental illness, addiction, or abuse out of the equation, I think it boils down to three basic causes: 1) Poor relationship skills. …; 2) Emotional immaturity. …; 3) Unrealistic expectations. …
God Has Been At Work
These have certainly been true of me in the past. (Less so of Dave. Honestly. I’m not just saying that.) However, God has been at work in my life over the last four decades.
Still, we decided to continue with the study and see what we might learn.
Chapter 1 is titled “Communication.”
The opening paragraph reads like this:
Communication is the lifeblood of any relationship, and we’re always communicating—whether we realize it or not—with our words, tone, body language, and actions. When you make the effort to communicate, with God or with your spouse, you’re showing that you value the relationship. Don’t be hard on yourselves if you struggle here. Like any skill, communication requires education and practice. But your efforts will be rewarded with greater love, joy, and peace rather than the pain and destruction I see when couples don’t learn to communicate well. If you grasp the importance of this skill and dedicate yourselves to using it consistently, there is nothing you and your spouse can’t work through together.
I Consider Myself a Communicator
As a writer, editor, and a woman who loves to speak about subjects she’s passionate about—whether to individuals or large groups—I consider myself a communicator. This paragraph drove home to me that we’re all communicators, whether we thrive on carrying on lengthy conversations or whether we do more listening than speaking. (I’m sure you can guess which of us, Dave or I, falls into each of these categories.)
When I read that “communication requires education and practice,” I couldn’t help but think of the message a visiting pastor preached recently. He was speaking of the importance of both physical and spiritual nourishment and exercise. He equated nourishment with taking in what is essential for health and growth. He views exercise as a working out of the benefits of good nourishment. You can see how this lines up with Kim Bowen’s “education and practice.”
A Year of Contentment
I believe God will bring both these pairs of words to my mind over the course of the 2020. I don’t always feel the Lord gives me a theme for the coming year, but I believe 2020 will be my personal year of contentment. I’m easily distracted by new books, new courses, new opportunities. It’s time to drill down and focus. In so doing, I will become more content—and excited about the richness that already surrounds me. (I like to make my list of goals at the end of November, for various reasons which I discuss on Janet Sketchley’s blog, Tenacity. I am honoured to be a regular guest blogger for Janet.)
Our Communication With God
Where does The Love, Joy, Peace Workbook begin? By addressing the most important communication of all, our communication with God.
Eek! I may have been too hasty about discounting how much I can learn from The Love, Joy, Peace Workbook.
Regular devotional time with my hubby appears on my list of goals every year—as does developing a more consistent prayer life.
Each chapter includes exercises to be done as a couple. The first chapter includes exercises titled “The Promise of Prayer,” in which couples review scripture passages and answer the question “When has God fulfilled His promise to answer your prayers, even if it was in an unexpected way?”; “Reading Scripture as a Couple”; “Praying as a Couple”; “One Step at a Time”; “Criticism and Cruelty”; a “Hurtful Habits Self-Evaluation”; “Expressing Appreciation”; and “Your Love Languages.”
Our Relationship With God
As you can tell, the author begins with the most important relationship of all, our relationship with God, but she isn’t afraid to move into the weeds as she challenges readers to be honest about themselves and their relationship with their spouse.
There are only eight chapters in this workbook, but each covers plenty of ground and includes scriptures and questions to consider. The chapters are as follows: Communication, Connection, Conflict, Partnership, Family, Money, Sex, and Contentment. There is a list of resources and another of references at the back of the book.
A Wonderful Tool
The Love, Joy, Peace Workbook would be a wonderful tool for newly married couples, but it should not be disregarded by those of us who have been married for decades. After all, even good relationships can become better. And great relationships? Just think of the possibilities!
Stephanie is a freelance writer and a contributor to our Christian internet radio station, HopeStreamRadio.
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Images courtesy of:
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