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Focus on the Family Broadcast

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

The Spiritual Battle for Your Marriage

Based on his book Defending Your Marriage, Dr. Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff share about the reality of spiritual warfare against marriages, and how to combat the enemy’s lies with the truth of God.
Original Air Date: July 9, 2021

John Fuller: Today on this best of 2021 Focus on the Family episode, we’ll be exploring an often-misunderstood source of problems in marriage, and that is spiritual warfare.

Preview:

Noreen Muehlhoff: The scriptures begin with a marriage. It’s Adam and Eve. Um, it’s an important institution. It, it reflects the image of God himself, and so wouldn’t it make sense if Satan wants to attack God that he would attack the thing that reflects his image?

End of Preview

John: That’s Noreen Muehlhoff explaining why you and your spouse may be experiencing some unexpected and perhaps even troubling conflict in your relationship. Noreen and her husband, Dr. Tim Muehlhoff, are our guests today. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us, I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: Uh, John, this best-of conversation with Tim and Noreen really resonated with our listeners when we aired it earlier this year, and we received some great comments in response. One woman said, “This is confirmation of what we have experienced. We ask the saints to join us in praying for myself and my husband. Thank you, Focus on the Family.” Another comment was, “My eyes will be open now more than ever. This has confirmed many thoughts I’ve had about the attacks of the enemy. We can’t allow the devil to have an inch. I’m looking for chains to be broken in Jesus’s name.”

John: Well, those are wonderful comments-

Jim: Yeah (laughs).

John: … and, uh, the Muehlhoff’s really did a great job of reminding us that spiritual warfare is real. It’s a very serious matter, and the Bible has a lot to say about this topic, more than we realize.

Jim: That’s right. In Ephesians 6, we’re told we wrestle against cosmic powers and spiritual forces of evil. That’s pretty straightforward, and in 1 Peter 5, Satan is compared to a roaring lion that’s seeking, uh, to devour us. So, if you haven’t considered how spiritual warfare may be impacting your life, and especially your marriage, uh, you’ll want to lean into the great content that Tim and Noreen will share with us today.

John: And Dr. Tim Muehlhoff is professor of communications at Biola University, also the director of resources for the Biola Center for Marriage and Relationships. He’s an author and podcast host, and his wife, Noreen, is the assistant director of chapel programs at Biola. Together, they routinely speak at marriage conferences, and Tim has written a book that we’ll focus on today call Defending Your Marriage: The Reality of Spiritual Battle. We can tell you more about that at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And Jim, here is how you began the conversation with the Muehlhoff’s on this best-of edition of Focus on the Family.

Jim: Explain why we Christians can be kind of clueless about spiritual warfare today. What’s happening in our ability to discern? That’s really what it is, a lack of discernment.

Dr.  Tim Muehlhoff: I think it has to do with what comes to mind when I say the demonic. I think most people are like, “Wow, the demonic,” and, uh, immediately thinking to the top movies on Netflix, right, The Conjuring, Paranormal Experience, where people are getting dragged across a room. A person is levitating, speaking in guttural Latin voices. And so, you look at that, and you go, “Ah. I don’t wanna have any part of that. That is not something I wanna dabble in. I think that’s, uh, Hollywood at its worst. Uh, I d-… I… so I don’t deal with it.” Right. If that’s my idea of the demonic, then I’m staying a mile away from it.

Noreen: Right, and that it’s something that happens elsewhere. Like, maybe you hear about in Africa or in Asia, but it doesn’t happen in the U.S., or it doesn’t happen in the West, and so we can dismiss it as something that happened in the past or in another location, but it doesn’t happen locally and within our own families.

Jim: Well, you’ve raised that. That is a question that I will hear occasionally. What’s the answer to that question? Do we see it in a different form, or what is the answer to that question?

Dr. Muehlhoff: Well, I think in… So, I did relief work in Africa in the Mathare Valley, one of the, uh, poorest regions of, uh, Africa, and when we would go out, Simon Zeramakenga would gather us all together, and he would pray warfare prayers, and I had never heard of one before. Uh, warfare prayer was simply, “Um, we know we are sending out these dear workers out into a spiritual battlefield, and God protect them, and Satan listen to me when I say this. You are not to touch them. They are God’s children. We send them out in God’s power. You are not to touch them, and we pray this in the power of Jesus’s name. Now, go.” And w-… first ti-… I was the team leader, so I’m driving out going, “(laughs) Oh, my God. What was that?” Like, “W-… I gonna be spiritually attacked?” not even knowing what that would look like, like, not having a concept of what that would look like, and so I’m gonna say it’s more in the West that we struggle with this. Other parts of the world in different locations, they take it very seriously, and so when I started to research the book, I started to reread the Gospels and then started to read what other, um, notable Christian authors would say about this. Here’s the number one fact that blew me away, and I thought, “Boy, I might need to write on this.” So, according to some New Testament scholars, 25% of everything Jesus had to say had to do with the demonic.

John: Hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, I say to my students at Biola University, “Imagine taking 25% of everything Jesus said and just setting it aside, not paying attention to it. I’m gonna pay attention to the 75%,” and my students were like, “Well, what’s the 25%?” (laughs) I said, “It has to do with demons, and the demonic, and spiritual battle,” a- and then I asked them, “Do you believe in the devil?” Every one of them says yes. And then, I say to ’em, “Does it make any difference in how you, you treat your roommates? Does it make any difference in how you treat your parents, or a dating relationship, or evangelism?” and virtually every one of these dear students pretty much says, “No, doesn’t make a difference in how I go about doing my life.”

John: Hmm.

Jim: Yeah, and of course, you’ve written this book Defending Your Marriage, so you’re taking this in the context of marriage, and I appreciate that. I think, uh, you know, what I’ve observed is our inability to recognize it. I think that’s what happens in the West. They-… like you said, they’re far more attuned to spiritual battles in other parts of the world. I’ve had the privilege to travel as well, so I’ve seen it, and it’s almost, like, uh, I think Satan’s pleased with the fact that he keeps us just, um, I guess disengaged with it.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Oh, very much.

John: Hmm.

Jim: You know, we just modernize everything. We don’t see it. But in that context of, of marriage in particular, uh, why do you think it’s a target for Satan, and why is he trying to accomplish the breaking of marriage?

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: This is a big question.

Noreen: Yeah, I mean, uh, the value of marriage is the first thing that comes to mind for me. I mean, we have… the scriptures begin with a marriage. It’s Adam and Eve. Um, it’s an important institution. It, it reflects the image of God himself, and so wouldn’t it make sense if Satan wants to attack God that he would attack the thing that reflects his image? And so, i-… to me, it makes sense that this would be an object of attack.

Jim: Yeah. Hey, let me, let me, uh, deepen this a little bit because I think the two of you had an experience. You were going to a marriage seminar-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and this is how it typically happens. I mean, Jean and I-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: … will feel this at times, especially if I’m going to speak on marriage. All of a sudden, things are just not right at home.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: I mean, uh, I irritate her. She irritates me. It’s kind of odd. It, like, comes out of left field, and sometimes we might overplay that. I don’t know, but I want your input. At other times, I’m going, “Oh, my goodness. This is a spiritual battle.”

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Uh, “He’s attacking us right now,” and stop, and pray, and do the things that we need to do to remedy that, but what is that, uh, f-… (laughs) balance, if we could take our Western goggles off to recognize it’s a satanic attack in our marriage versus it’s our triggers.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, going back to the, the first marriage, right-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: … which you p- pointed out in Genesis. Well, if you take a look at how the serpent attacks Adam and Eve, what’s great about teaching at a Christian university is you’ve got some really smart professors.

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, you get to walk over to ’em, and you get say, “Okay, so when it’s said that the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field, like, in Hebrew, what does crafty mean?” It means subtle.

Jim: Hmm.

John: Hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, when th-… when the serpent g-… like, imagine the serpent walking right up to Eve and saying, “Eve, on three, rebel against God. Okay?”

Jim: That wouldn’t have happened.

Dr. Muehlhoff: No, wouldn’t have happened. Eve woulda turned and looked at him and said, “No. Of not. W-… there is no reason to rebel.” But then, he comes as a serpent, and we know in ear-… Near Eastern times, serpents were these glowing things, these shiny things. I mean, don’t equate ’em how we view snakes. We view snakes now after the Fall as things to be worried about. Uh, Eve would’ve had no reason to be suspicious of the snake.

Jim: Mm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And now the snake talks. “Well, oh, that’s interesting. I didn’t know snakes talked,” but she’s under no threat whatsoever, and then he starts to work in very subtle ways, so now shift to this what happened when we were leaving for our Family Life marriage conference. Noreen has noticed for a couple days that there’s a leak happening beneath our faucet, and then she makes a tactical mistake of saying, “Honey, can you look at it?”

Jim: Yeah.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And I’m like, “Sure.” So, now, now you know what like leaving for LAX. I- it is… we’re gonna leave. We ha-… we’re leaving five days before the (laughs) flight to LAX. It’s, like, craziness, and Noreen opens it, and we’re literally leaving in five minutes, and the leak is happening.

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Muehlhoff: Now, no kids. That leak could potentially go all weekend, but we have no time. We gotta get to LAX. We can’t be late to the marriage conference. So, now we get into the car, and there’s just tension. There’s silence between us.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And you’re kinda thinking what? You’re thinking…

Noreen: I’m thinking why-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Keep it clean. Keep it clean (laughs).

Noreen: … did (laughs)… why did you take care of the, the leak? Um, what we realized was it was a pattern-

Jim: Yeah.

Noreen: … of exactly what you were talking about, that irritability, the crankiness, the… Why does it seem like every time we go away, kids get sick, things in the house break, we end up, you know-

Jim: Right.

Noreen: … s-… bickering with-

Jim: Right.

Noreen: … one another? Um, and then we stepped back and said, “Perhaps there is something else”-

Jim: Yeah.

Noreen: … at the… and I think, you know, the way you worded the question even to say, is it our… you know, pushing our triggers-

Jim: Triggers, yeah.

Noreen: … or is it spiritual battle? And what I would like to say is it doesn’t have to be one or the other-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Noreen: … and that it can be both.

Jim: Well, and oftentimes-

Jim: Yeah.

Jim: … in the Christian vernacular, we talk about our flesh and then Satan.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And they tend to work in tandem.

Jim: So, to your point-

Noreen: Yeah.

Jim: … our flesh usually moves in a direction that’s, uh, Satanic I would say-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah.

Jim: … that is against God.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, and, and we don’t need to differentiate, really. It’s just-

Noreen: No, and he takes advantage.

Jim: Right.

Noreen: He takes advantage of our weaknesses. He takes advantage of our sin. So, when we open ourselves to those kind of things, it gives him then the opportunity to get the foothold-

Jim: Right.

Noreen: … and, um, exasperate-

Jim: Mm.

Noreen: … accelerate-

Jim: And-

Noreen: … throw fuel on the fire.

Jim: You know, o- one observation I have, uh, we have something called That the World May Know. Ray VanderLaan has done the series with us for years.

Jim: Mm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And one of the statements he makes in there is that, going back to your point of the serpent and Eve, is when sin entered the world, chaos entered the world-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mm.

Jim: … and that w- w-… you know, God and Jesus coming into this chaos, he’s bringing God’s shalom, his-

John: Mm.

Jim: … peace into the chaos.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: And that’s what we’re so… that’s our big mission as Christians-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: … is to bring his shalom into this chaotic, sinful world.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

John: This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, and today, we’re talking to, uh, Tim and Noreen Muehlhoff. They have, uh, studied, as Jim said earlier, uh, this matter of spiritual f-… uh, warfare and spiritual battle, and Tim has written a book, Defending Your Marriage. Contact us for your copy. It’s 800-A-FAMILY or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Noreen, I wanna come back your direction ’cause you mentioned-

Noreen: Okay.

Jim: … something that we didn’t explore, and that is this idea of a, a foothold for Satan.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Um, I think it’s really important because I think, especially in marriage, we don’t stop and really understand how often we’re doing that, and it’s in our bickering, our-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … uh, verbal spats, our battles. Describe what a, a foothold is for Satan to get in between you and your spouse and what damage can be done because of it.

Noreen: Sure. Well, you know, a foothold is anything that gives somebody a position of power and influence. So, when we talk about Satan having a foothold, and this is, you know, coming from Ephesians 4, um, it allows him to enter in. He has access and from there can, like I said, throw fuel on the fire, and exaggerate, and make… exasperate, make things worse even. So, when we talk about a foothold, it can be… even using that… the, the verse, you know, “Do not let the sun go down on your anger to not give Satan the foothold.” So, when we… and th-… for us, that doesn’t mean, like, we have to resolve conflict before the sun goes down. Like, it’s not a literal, but it means we’re not gonna let it fester.

Jim: Mm. Right.

Noreen: We’re not gonna let it take hold because we know that anger in and of itself is not sin but how we handle that anger and how we respond. So, if there’s anger between us, if there’s frustration, or if, like we were talking about, the very strengths that Tim has, if they… if I find them starting to become annoying, that’s a cue to me, like, “I need t-… What’s going on?”

Jim: Mm.

Noreen: “Why is this thing that used to be so attractive so frustrating right now?”

Jim: (laughs)

Noreen: And what I wanna do is I wanna justify it and say it’s because of him-

Jim: Mm.

Noreen: … rather than saying, “What… why has my perspective changed? What’s at work? And have I allowed Satan some access”-

Jim: Mm.

Noreen: … “to dwell on things? Am I holding things? Am I letting bitterness cement and letting those thoughts… not holding those thoughts captive to Christ but allowing them to develop in ways that are going to continue to”-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Noreen: … “drive a larger wedge in our relationship rather than bringing us back together?”

Jim: Tim, you also write in your book about C.S. Lewis and The Screwtape Letters-

Noreen: Mm-hmm. Yeah.

Jim: … which is one of our favorites here-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Ah.

Jim: … at Focus. We did a radio theater-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Oh.

Jim: … and that’s brilliant. Uh, we have some great BBC voice actors in that.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Ah.

Jim: It’s, it’s one of the best, I think, that we did, but-

Dr. Muehlhoff: That’s great.

Jim: … uh, we love The Screwtape Letters.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: How did that connect for you?

Dr. Muehlhoff: Well, we love The Screwtape Letters as well.

Noreen: Absolutely.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Uh, we got a chance to see it performed-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: … as well. It was awesome. Um, it showed me the subtlety of it.

Noreen: Right.

Dr. Muehlhoff: I-… Lewis is in the fine moments. It’s a demon working on a person for years, getting an attitude.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Uh, I remember, I remember the old lady who her tea just had to be just right, and she would say, “Oh, I’m not a picky person. Oh, no. I’m not a picky person”-

Jim: (laughs)

Dr. Muehlhoff: … “but could I have my tea just a l-… just a little bit,” a- and Lewis goes on forever because she is now not willing to accommodate anything other than what she wants, and she would never admit to that. She would say, “I just like a good cup of tea. Can’t a woman just have a good cup of tea?” and the demon is causing her to be inflexible, and that then will be used somewhere else, with children-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: … a church person, but inflexibility is a great [inaudible], so when I started to read Lewis, I realized maybe the demons that are working on me, it is such small things that I don’t even notice this is spiritual attack, and he is setting a trap for me.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Noreen: Which goes back to the craftiness.

Jim: Yeah, yeah.

Noreen: That’s what I think. You know, the, the whole Screwtape Letters is such a great example. It’s a creative envisioning of just how-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Noreen: … crafty… it’s subtle. It’s little steps that we allow to happen, and then you end up where you’re too fussy about your tea, but it… and then that leads into everything, you know, being fussy-

Jim: Right.

Noreen: … about everything.

John: Right, and the mastery of Screwtape Letters, it’s from the perspective of Satan and his demons and how-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … they’re gonna manipulate these people.

Noreen: Right, right.

Jim: And, and that’s what makes it so brilliant, actually. When was look at those weapons, we’ve talked a lot about the other guy’s weapons. Well, we got some weapons, too.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And one of the things that you talk about in the marriage relationship is the weapon of community.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mm.

Jim: And I’m speaking-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mm.

Jim: … weapon as a positive thing.

Noreen: Right.

Jim: You know, our weapons don’t line up with the other guy’s weapons. Ours is love, joy, peace, goodness, kindness, mercy. Community could be-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: … perceived in there, you know, relationship. We’re made for relationship. The other guy’s envy, strife, jealousy, all the ugly side of humanity, so speak to the issue of community, and why is that important for married couples particularly?

Noreen: Well, I think one of the, um, strategies of the enemy can be isolation.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mmm.

Noreen: And so-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mmm.

Noreen: … when you’re in community, that’s the antidote to isolation, and even if you’re just isolated together as a couple, and you don’t have anybody encouraging you, you don’t have outside eyes on you saying, like, “Hey, you look like you’re struggling. Can we help?” or, you don’t have other couples who are saying, “We struggle with that, too,” you can begin to look at your marriage and go, “We’re losers. Something’s wrong with us. This isn’t working. He’s the wrong person. I’m the wrong person.” You come up with all these-

Jim: Yeah.

Noreen: … again, lies that, if you’re not in community, those lies can take root, and you begin to believe them, and you make decisions based on those lies. And I think community can be that speed bump to letting those lies become embedded and then taking action on those.

Jim: Yeah. You, you mention community, but I think we’re so illiterate nowadays-

Noreen: (laughs)

Jim: … if I could say it that way-

John: Mm.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: That I’m not sure that we actually know what to do in community.

Noreen: No.

Jim: What you’re talking about but in community and being believers in community-

Noreen: Mm.

Jim: … particularly is understanding the weapons of our warfare, and you even, I think, relate that to Ephesians 6-

Noreen: Right.

Jim: … which is the, the, the spiritual weapons that we possess-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Right. Right.

Jim: … and the defensive, uh, armor that we have.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Absolutely.

Jim: Talk about th- that component and how we need to apply those things.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, here’s the, here’s the cool thing when you’re… we’re at a university with people who study a book their entire life. I mean, think about that. So, we have a, a, a gentleman at Biola, Dr. Clint Arnold, who has studied Ephesians his entire life.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: Mm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, I bought him many-

Jim: It’s amazing.

Dr. Muehlhoff: … copies, many copies-

Noreen: Yeah.

Dr. Muehlhoff: … with a legal pad just writing like a mad person. He said two things I will never forget. He said, “You have to remind people it was a letter. We added the verses, uh, and chapter breaks just for easy reference, but it, it was a letter,” so if you read the letter, his point is as clear as a bell. He’s talking about Ephesians 5 about marriage, and it bleeds seamlessly into armor, the spiritual, uh, breastplate of righteousness, right, shodding our feet with the gospel of peace and things like that, but in the letter, it is one continuous thought- … meaning, if you’re going to do this thing called Christian marriage, you better get dressed ’cause the battle’s at your feet, spiritual battle. But then, he made a point, but what made the Roman army so effective? Two things made the Roman army so effective. One was their shoes. They actually… they were the first to put spikes in their shoes.

Jim: Mm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: So, they could run up mountains, but when they stuck their foot in the ground, you’re not pushing ’em off that ground, but they also locked arms with each other and knocked knees. The Persians could not move ’em off a spot. So, the point that we make in the book is, i- if you were to say to Paul, uh, “Is spiritual battle just one Roman soldier? Is that the metaphor I’m trying to use?” he would go, “Oh, no, no. No, not the soldier, the cohort.”

John: Mm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: It’s the group of Roman soldiers that were so powerful, so I think Paul is even there suddenly saying, “Listen, families, marriages, one Roman soldier going against Persians would get obliterated, but a Roman cohort coming together is not going to be moved off that mark,” and so first thing we did when we got to Biola University, we pulled together a marriage group.

Jim: Hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And we’ve had this group for, now, 16 years.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And i- it’s just life giving because you were talking isolation, Noreen.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: You can just feel like you’re the loser family that has a wayward teenager. You’re the loser family that is having a really hard time, uh, resolving this issue, and, and that gets rid of all of it. When a- another couple that you respect goes, “Are you kidding me? Our teenagers, we were gonna ship ’em off. We didn’t know what (laughs) to do with these kids,” I think Satan loses a great piece of ammunition there because it’s like you’re not alone.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: This is normal.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Dr. Muehlhoff: And then Satan can’t use it anymore because you normalized it, so you gotta have that cohort with you, a- and I get that it’s frustrating. People don’t know how to do it, and so I say grab one or two couples and say, “Uh, let’s read a marriage book. Let’s read a Muehlhoff book.”

Noreen: (laughs)

Dr. Muehlhoff: I’m thinking out loud.

Jim: (laughs) You’re thinking in the right direction.

Dr. Muehlhoff: I’m thinking-

Jim: Let me, let me end here because we… our time is done, but, um, it’s something I often say, that our marriages are a testimony to non-believers-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … who are watching us-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … particularly. And I think when you’re in ministry, uh, like I am, like you are, uh, it’s even magnified more so, and I think, in that way, sometimes we’ll get maybe even more spiritual battle-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … because, if he can take us down-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: … he wins a big-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: … you know, big-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Right.

Jim: … feather.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: Um, how, in that context, do we, uh, get up every morning as a married couple remembering that our marriages are seen by our family members, by those in church, by the people we work with, et cetera?

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: Is that important to even keep in mind?

Noreen: I think it is important to keep in mind, but for me, the most important thing is that what people see in our marriage is a reflection of what’s really there and what’s in my heart individually, what’s in Tim’s heart individually, what’s in our heart as a couple because what I wouldn’t wanna do, and I think the danger can be especially for couples in ministry or couples that are, you know, in the public is that you begin to put on an external… what you think it should look like-

Jim: That’s so true. Yeah.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah, yeah.

Noreen: … even though… and then the internal begins to crumble.

Jim: Yeah.

Noreen: So, as we get up every morning, we, we are aware of that, of you know, that people may be watching. People are making decisions based on what they, they see, but the important thing is not what they see. It’s what’s in our hearts-

Jim: What’s authentic.

Noreen: … that’s creating what they see.

Jim: That’s one reason I’m actually really excited about the next generation because I think-

Dr. Muehlhoff: Mm, mm.

Jim: … they comprehend authenticity better than the previous generation if I could say it that way, and it… you know, of course, that’s a blanket statement. I get that, but we tended to project perfection and not live up-

Noreen: Right.

Jim: … to it rather than project brokenness-

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and live that-

John: Mm-hmm.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … so that other people could come into relationship with Christ, and I think that’s what the Lord clearly says. “When you’re low, I am lifted up,” and when, when you’re broken, he’s lifted up-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … and that’s the story, that’s the power of the gospel, not that I’m so good I’m doing it well.

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: This isn’t like a math test we’re taking-

Noreen: Yeah (laughs).

Jim: Yeah.

Jim: … and I’m an A student didn’t miss any answers.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah.

Jim: No, this is about our need for him in every aspect of our life, and I, I hope that’s where not only Christian leadership goes but the entire church-

Noreen: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … goes because I think that’s the secret to moving forward in a better direction. That’s the ingredients of revival.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Yeah, I to- totally agree, and it’s gonna be the groups again. The group keeps us round… uh, grounded.

Noreen: Community.

Dr. Muehlhoff: Our, our marriage group keeps us grounded because, if you start to, um, be high and mighty, you can’t do that with other PhDs.

Jim: (laughing)

Dr. Muehlhoff: They’re like, “Stop it. Stop it.” Th- that’s re-… that really helps us stay grounded.

Jim: Yeah.

Noreen: Well, yeah, ’cause they see you’re living out… when they see us living out our daily life, we can’t be blowing smoke.

John: Well, having a supportive community for your marriage is great advice, especially when you and your spouse might be dealing with spiritual warfare, and, uh, that’s how we concluded this best-of episode of Focus on the Family featuring Dr. Tim Muehlhoff and his wife, Noreen. We really do recommend you follow up on this very important topic by getting a copy of the book by Dr. Muehlhoff called Defending Your Marriage: The Reality of Spiritual Battle.

Jim: John, as we said at the beginning, spiritual warfare is something we cannot afford to minimize or overlook, especially today in a culture that doesn’t see marriage as valuable or even necessary. As Christians, we have a responsibility to be a living witness of what God intended marriage to be, and we need to be more intentional about loving our spouse well and getting good tools to strengthen that relationship. That’s why, uh, I recommend every couple get a copy of Tim’s book, Defending Your Marriage. This is a must-have resource, and if you send a gift of any amount to Focus on the Family today, we’ll put a copy into your hands. That’s how much we believe in the great content, and it’s our way of saying thank you.

John: Yeah, and let me mention as well our free online marriage assessment, which gives you and your spouse a good overview of what’s working well in your relationship and maybe some suggestions for improvement as well. Uh, contact us to learn more about the assessment and to donate and get Tim’s book. Our number, 800-232-6459, 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: And don’t forget about our matching gift opportunity here at the end of the year. Some generous friends of Focus are willing to match your giving dollar for dollar. Your financial support is so critical right now as we anticipate hearing from literally hundreds of thousands of couples in 2022 who are trying to build a stronger and more satisfying relationship. Or they’ll be navigating a crisis in their marriage. Working together, we can give these couples hope in the coming year, so please be generous with your giving to Focus on the Family.

John: And again, our number is 800, the letter A, and the word family, or donate online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, coming up tomorrow, an inspiring message from Liz Curtis Higgs about the birth of Jesus.

Preview:

Liz Curtis Higgs: These stories had to have the miraculous because we had to look at them and say, “Only God. Nothing is impossible for God.” The NCV is, “God can do anything.”

End of Preview

John: On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back as we once more help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Front cover of "Defending Your Marriage"

Defending Your Marriage: The Reality of Spiritual Battle

Get the book Defending Your Marriage with your donation of any amount! And when you give today, your support will be DOUBLED to Give Families Hope!

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