A lot of pastors are really hurting now with loss of attendance, and it's a hard time. And I have been urging pastors, tell people you are hurting. Tell them this is hard for you. Tell them your fears.
Let them into your hurting. I would say that's more than just to pastors, because I think so often we pull inward in our pain. Oh, yeah.
Yeah. So you're right, I think for pastors to model that, and then for all of us to have someone safe, trusted, that may have a biblical viewpoint that can kind of wrap their arms around us and pray for us, there's something really healthy about that. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson.
And I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at familylifetoday.com or on our Family Life app. This is Family Life Today. So I have a confession. It's not real bad, but I don't like to admit this, but every once in a while when I'm flipping through channels, I'll come across The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. Oh, yeah.
I know this about you. It hooks you. I find myself watching. I've never watched a season or probably haven't even watched a total show. What is it, an hour or 30 minutes?
I don't know. But I'll watch 15 minutes. No shame if you're an avid watcher.
Yeah. I'm not ripping you if you watch the show, but I find myself just captivated and I'm snickering because this woman thinks she's going to find her guy or this guy thinks he's going to find her woman. And everything is so fake.
Everything's perfect. And they're all in their tuxedos. And I'm just like, this is not life. This is not marriage. This is not relationships. And yet I know it does hook you in because you want to watch the drama.
And I know there's Bachelor and Bachelorette parties. I don't even want to admit I've ever watched it, but I think I watch it because it's so not real. Right?
Probably. And I think we need to display what is real. And I think today we're going to talk about what is real. We have Paul Miller back in the studio to talk about the life of Christ formed in us, which is so unlike The Bachelor or The Bachelorette.
I mean, Paul, welcome back to Family Life Today. I'm excited to talk again about what you call the J-curve. Your book's called The J-curve, which is a beautiful visual of the Christian life, even a relationship dating life or a married life or a family goes through this curve. So remind our listeners what the J-curve is. Well, the simple idea of the J-curve is like the letter J. Jesus' life goes down into death and up into resurrection. And that is the template for our lives. And there's three kinds of J-curves. There is the love J-curve, which Philippians 2 talks about, where Jesus descends from the heavenlies down all the way to death on a cross.
It's motivated by love. He's going into a world where there's problems. He's going into trouble.
Okay? And the second kind of J-curve is when trouble comes after me. That's suffering. Like when Joni Eareckson Tada had her accident, that was a suffering J-curve.
I mean, she jumped into a lake and ends up paralyzed. Yeah, yeah. So the suffering's coming at her. And the love J-curve, it's like being a missionary, you know. Marriage is a love J-curve.
You enter into it with love. And the third kind of J-curve is where I need to die to myself because the trouble's in me. There's problems in me. Where I have to put to death something in me. So the three kinds of J-curves I call the repentance J-curve, where the problem is in me. The love J-curve, where I marry the problem. I should get a different word. Sorry. And then the third one is where the problem comes at me.
Okay? Just sort of a taxonomy of J-curves. So if you're wondering, why should I listen to this today? It's because every single one of us experiences this at some point in our lives where we are suffering or we are struggling.
And we need to know, how does the life of Christ, how does biblical knowledge, how does this J-curve help me? Right. And just here's a quick story that I mentioned in the J-curve book where Kim, our fourth child, we have six children, with her autism would get up at like four o'clock in the morning. Her bedroom was on the third floor and paced back and forth. She'd go out in the hallway, flick the light on, run back to bed. Five minutes later, she'd come back and flick it off.
And I could sleep through this. My wife couldn't. So she would tell her to get back in bed. And because we were separated by three doors and a floor, she had to tell you loudly. She yelled. And then we would have devotions at that point.
We had our devotions separately. Jill would be on the first floor. I'd be on the second floor. Kim would be pacing on the third floor. Jill had to yell at me so I could yell at Kim to get back in bed.
Sort of like tag team yelling. Does that, you know what I mean? I got the picture. So you and Jill are up at four in the morning having your devotions? Well, no, this would be like Kim would start pacing at 5.30.
And a typical male brain, I could just turn this off. My wife heard everything at five times its volume. So one day I decided I was convicted and we'll call this a repentance, Jay Kirk. I was convicted of yelling. And I was halfway through writing this book on prayer. I thought maybe I should go up and pray with Kim. Jill said to me as I was getting out of bed, she says, what are you going to do? Yell at Kim?
Which was an odd comment because we did our yelling long distance, you know. I said, no, that hasn't worked for 10 years. So I said I was going to go pray with her. And she started laughing and said, what do you mean?
It's been 20 years. So I go upstairs and I just sit on Kim's bed and I pray with her. I just pray that God would quiet her. And, you know, it's amazing as we enter into the world of love, what God does. And my prayer as I begin to, the moment I started praying about Kim, I knew something that I hadn't known a minute before. It was just this thought. It was just like a, there was no words to it. And it was just that I had underestimated Kim and her ability to learn and to grow and mature as a person. It was just something I knew. So that was like December, in March, it stopped. So I went about once a week to pray with Kim and it stopped because we moved.
We didn't realize that the trucks from the meat factory across the street, when they would pull in, were waking up Kim. Because she was in the back of the house. By the way is why it's so important not to overthink prayer. Prayer is so mysterious because God's so mysterious.
You know, you just, you have to be like a little child. So God had the answer to prayer before I prayed it. Even with that, Paul, as I'm listening, I'm thinking we do underestimate the power of prayer.
Why is it sometimes it's the last thing we do instead of the first thing? I'm recalling recently I was in the hospital with my daughter-in-law and our one-year-old granddaughter was in the hospital and she needed a CAT scan. And the nurses were saying, this baby cannot eat for six hours. And we were thinking- So the reverse of the feeding of the 5,000-year-old. Yeah, exactly. This is going to be impossible.
So we're strategizing, how can we do this? And I'll never forget, like the baby was fussy. She was hungry. And we're all basically crying like how are we going to do this? And we started to pray. And I put worship music to the baby's ear as I prayed. It was one of the most miraculous things I had experienced.
This baby just settled down and she fell asleep and she slept for three hours. And I'm thinking the same thing. It should have been the first thing we did, you know? So I love that you said for 20 years, you've been yelling upstairs. And here this changed the whole pattern that you underestimated your daughter too.
Yeah. Let me just finish out this Jay story. So it begins with a repentance. We enter into the work of love.
God takes us on this journey. And then he began to speak into my journey. And I was convicted by that thought. And I couldn't get it out of my mind.
So two or three months later, I thought, what do I do with that? And I started doing morning devotions with Kim. We had a great time doing devotions.
And then she would- What did that look like? Oh, we would just read something from the Jesus children's book. And I'm kind of a connoisseur of children's books.
We've started now on our fourth reading of the comic book, the Bible. I'm sure you guys are familiar with that. But when Kim would pray and she would pray on her speech computer, I would go do the dishes. It was just a good old American multitasking.
You know what I mean? I would have sat down with her except I had to go to work and write a book about prayer. And there was a couple of months where I should respect her, especially since I wrote a book about being attentive to people.
Finally, I was just convicted. So I sat down with her. And as soon as I sat down with her, her prayers began to blossom. I mean, it went from one or two sentences to longer prayers.
They were funny prayers. I'll take pictures of her prayers because it shows on her printout of her screen and send them to people who she's praying for. She prays for angry people because she struggles with anger. And she'll thank God for Disney.
I mean, she'll thank God for SpongeBob, things that I would never think to thank God for. What was it about you sitting down? I was valuing her. And I knew I should do it. I was attentive to her. And she blossomed.
Yeah, and she blossomed. And what I'm describing is a resurrection. That's what I was going to say. That's the resurrection side.
And this resurrection that has come out of this has so many sides to it. Right around that time, I stopped teaching Sunday school and just told the pastor, I'm going to shut down. Kim's not been taught.
They found an empty room next to the furnace. Kim and I and another disabled kids, we just started doing Bible study together. My wife took it over. And now we have a ministry within See Jesus that writes Bible curriculum for people with intellectual disabilities called Bethesda. So it's really helpful to be attentive to the story.
We should be story watchers and storytellers because, you know, we're alert to the patterns of dying. And so there was a love J curve. I was loving Jill. I was dying to myself.
And there were several other dines in there, like dying to multitasking. And out of that, Kim blossoms. It's just very sweet. I love praying together. You know, after breakfast every morning, she pushes aside all her stuff. And we read our Bible story together. And I'll suggest to Kim something that she could remember.
I find she has a limit about five suggestions or she gets irritated because SpongeBob awaits. So for us as parents, I remember that too, of if I hadn't spent some time just being on the bed, asking them how they're doing, of reading a devotional. Those are days upon days of doing that. But then as I get older, and you hear their prayers, and you see their lives kind of igniting and being set on fire for Jesus, that's the resurrection. That's the resurrection. Yeah. And the resurrection brings hope, right? Yeah. I mean, a couple of your chapters talk about it transforms your vision. Yes.
For life, for your family. It's just that resurrection understanding is literally life giving. Yes, it really is. And just a couple examples from Philippians 1. Paul's in prison, literally in chains when he's dictating the book of Philippians.
And he says to the Philippians who were evidently worried about him, don't worry, because of my chains, the whole Praetorium Guard, so if Paul's in Rome, which we think he is, there's about 6000 members of the Praetorium Guard, the whole Praetorium Guard has heard about Jesus. So it's a way of looking at your life where you're picking up the beauty. It's a kind of a Christian realism.
So you're not an optimist, you know, optimism ignores the negative, it is denial, you know, it's not honest, and it just looks at the positive. But Paul is realistic. So what's the great reality he sees is the resurrection and enthronement of Jesus Christ.
I mean, that's the 10,000 watt neon bulb at the center of the room that's just the blinding light that reshapes how Paul looks at everything. Then he mentions, you know, there are people that are trying to get me in trouble here. But he said, you know what, let's look at that through a resurrection lens. They're trying to get me in trouble by aggressively preaching the gospel.
And look, more people are hearing about Jesus, who cares about their motive, you know what I mean? The dominance of the therapeutic lens can lead us to kind of getting stuck in death. You know, let's say you're in a difficult marriage where you're married to what I like to call a prickly saint. You need to be praying every day to see the beauty of Jesus in that person. Otherwise, you're going to get caught in the prickles.
And that's going to shape your lens and you'll get stuck at the bottom of the J. That's David Ann Wilson with Paul Miller on Family Life Today. We'll hear about the hope a spouse can have even when facing a difficult marriage in just a second. But as a listener of Family Life Today, you have heard many stories of how God can do amazing work in even the toughest marriages.
And the amazing thing is that God chooses to use people just like you to help. One way you can make an impact for more marriages and families is by financially partnering with Family Life Today. All this week, as our thanks for your partnership, we want to send you a copy of Kay Wyma's book called The Peace Project, a 30-day experiment practicing thankfulness, kindness, and mercy.
You can get your copy when you give this week at familylifetoday.com or when you call with your donation at 800-358-6329. That's 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. All right, now back to David Ann's conversation with Paul Miller. So Paul, even if somebody's at the bottom of the J and they're really struggling and their circumstances of the marriage don't change, are you saying they can come up and experience resurrection in the midst of that? Yeah, and a great example of that is Paul and Silas in the Philippian jail. I mean, they're literally at the bottom of a J in prison.
They've been beaten once. They're in stocks, which were torture extenders. They're in pain and they are in a fellowship of his suffering. They start worshiping and praying. And so the resurrection, it can always begin in your heart. And so what that does is that dying and rising with Christ stabilizes your emotions. So you can say, yeah, this really hurts and this is really hard. And you can have friends that you can unburden your heart to. But that grief and that sadness that you feel that and you should feel because of a difficult marriage doesn't have to be the last word.
I was just thinking of when we wrote our book, Vertical Marriage, it was about our ten-year anniversary of how I told Dave I was pretty much done in our marriage. And I would describe that as the most horrendous, beautiful point of my life. Because in the pain, it led to repentance. And in that repentance and the dying of self, it led to resurrection. I was going to say resurrection. God resurrected our marriage. Not in an instant.
Although in an instant of repentance, the miracle began and then fleshed itself out over the last 31 years, now 41. Here's my question. Is it possible to experience resurrection vision of life alone? Or do you need a community? Or is it both and? I mean, it's both and. There's some situations where you really, you know that great proverb that every heart has its own grief. You know, I think there's often parts of our hearts that that are either inappropriate or just for one reason or another.
And that's okay. And sometimes the stories that we're in need to be hidden, because to share them would hurt people. And you know, the beautiful thing is when a whole community begins to enter. And that's what Paul's passion is. The Corinthian community has been what I call the failure boasting chart. So think of a slide, you know, where failure is at the bottom and boasting is at the top. That's kind of our flesh, you know, where we're trying to get up and avoiding going down. But Jesus, the pattern of his life needs to describe every community.
And here's a quick example of that. A lot of pastors are really hurting now with loss of attendance and it's a hard time. And I have been urging pastors, tell people you're hurting. Tell them this is hard for you. Tell them your fears. Don't put on the evangelical smile. Don't do a vision series on how great your church is.
Let them into your where you are. So if you're dying, to be able to open your heart up in a wise and prudent way to that dying is really, and you get the whole congregation praying for you. They know you're hurting. I would say that's more than just to pastors because I think so often we pull inward in our pain. Oh yeah. Yeah.
So you're right. I think for pastors to model that and then for all of us to have someone safe, trusted, that may have a biblical viewpoint that can kind of wrap their arms around us and pray for us. There's something really healthy about that.
Oh, it's just enormously healthy. I was going through that hard time that I mentioned our last podcast with a challenging boss. I had a really close friend. I would open up my heart to that friend to just because you're in a suffering J curve, suffering J curve exposes the possibility of repentance J curves of sin in your life.
So opening your life up to moving between the different J curves so that here's another way. It is harder to be a victim than it is to be a sinner. A sinner can repent, but if you remember my Kayla story, Kayla was a victim. When you are wounded by someone, you've got to take that into a fellowship of his suffering or that door to bitterness will not be a door.
It will be a vacuum that sucks you in. I'm thinking for our listeners, I'm thinking for us even, what's the hardest thing in your life right now? Where would you say, I am struggling here? And even I like that thought, Paul, of like, can we die to ourselves in the suffering of Christ? Can we give that to him?
And what's keeping you from that? Yeah, and I'm thinking one of the things I've learned, Paul, from you and from your book to J curve is when I'm in the death suffering struggle stage, open my eyes and realize Jesus is right here. He wants to meet me. He hasn't abandoned me. I am fellowshipping with him.
And there's part of that's glorious. I know that's hard to have that perspective, especially if you're in a dark right now, but he's there and you are actually with him. You're participating in something he's already gone through for you.
That is a beautiful thing. I know it's crazy to think of that right now. And I don't know when resurrection is going to come.
It could be years from now. It could be this hour, but endure and participate in that suffering because it's worth it. And he loves you. And the very simplest thing to do when you find yourself in the situation that Dave has just described is to go to Jesus and tell him that. Tell him what you're doing.
It's just a Hebrew lament. Tell him where you're at and to start asking him for his help and just keep going back. You've been listening to Dave and Anne Wilson with Paul Miller on Family Life today. Have you looked at a yearbook lately from when you were about 15?
Do you remember what life was like then? It's a time when you can really struggle with figuring out just who you are. And as a parent, it can be pretty tricky knowing how to help. But let me just say, getting a copy of Family Life's Passport to Identity is a good place to start. It's a chance to get some quality time away together one-on-one with your teenager. You'll listen together to biblical teaching on what it means to be a young man or a young woman. It's quality time that's just absolutely priceless.
And now you can get Passport to Identity, Young Men's Edition or Young Women's Edition for 25% off with the code PASSPORT. Just go to familylifetoday.com or call 800-358-6329. That's 800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Now tomorrow, Dave and Anne Wilson are going to be talking with Uche Anasor to talk about what to do when you lose your fire for God. I think we've all been there. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
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