"... because your hearts were hard" (Matthew 19:8).

Jesus' words are blunt. They carry with them the sting of a painful truth. Our lives, especially our lives with our families, are often a mess because of the hardness of our hearts. The pain we inflict on each other and the wounds that we leave behind are the bitter testimony that Jesus' words are, all too often, agonizingly true.

Most of us want something better. Most of us want to be better. Sure, some cling to their total innocence and blame their circumstances, the lack of understanding by others, the maliciousness of their spouse/child/parent, or some cruel fate. In reality, however, most of us acknowledge that we are at least part of the problem. We recognize that many of our own messes happened because of moments when our hearts have been hard.

At Heartlight.org, we are committed to bring resources to you to help you live for Jesus in our world today. It's a tough time in the world. Life together is not easy. Stresses are high and relationships are strained. So we believe there is a need for some straightforward discussion about how we are to live together in our families in ways that honor God.

On most Thursdays, we will turn to two sources for input on these matters, Joe Beam and Rick Reynolds. Both of these counselors have worked with hundreds of couples as they have dealt with marriage issues many would never tackle. Our prayer is that this will be a blessing to you and that God is honored.

We believe that it is only fair that you know the convictions that we operate from at Heartlight.org. So here are some of the foundational commitments that we have and that we will expect of anything shared through us.

Men and women are both made in the image of God and are to be cherished because there is something of the Creator's glory in each person (Genesis 1:26-27).

God made men and women differently and as we learn to submit to each other to honor Christ (Ephesians 5:21;  Philippians 2:5-11) and as we learn to bless each other sexually in marriage (1 Corinthians 7:1-5), we are fulfilling God's good and holy desire for us (Genesis 1:27-31).

Our hearts are sometimes hard.
God made marriage as a life covenant (Matthew 19:1-9). God hates for families to blow up in divorce (Malachi 2:13-16). Seeking to be faithful to God, we want to do all we can to help husbands and wives honor their marriage covenant with each other and God. We pray that this marriage relationship furnishes the foundation of a strong family and a powerful testimony to the world.

We believe that each child, from the moment of conception, is precious and to be valued as a gift from God and that each one has been created by God with a plan and purpose for his or her life (Genesis 4:1;  Psalm 139:13-16). Each child is to be lovingly nurtured and trained in the ways of God and taught to obey his or her parents and seek after God (Ephesians 6:1-3).

Our responsibility as Jesus' community is to humbly help each other stay on the path of God (Galatians 6:1-3;  James 5:19-20) and encourage each other to faithfulness (Hebrews 3:12-14). To simply do nothing (or worse, to gossip) while marriages and families blow up is to share in the sin and not love the broken (Matthew 18:10-14;  James 4:17).

Yes, our hearts are sometimes hard. Yet as we look to Jesus, we are promised that the Holy Spirit's power will be at work transforming us (2 Corinthians 3:18). God is at work in us to make us more than our mistakes (Philippians 2:12-13) and his grace redeems us to be used for his creative purposes (Ephesians 2:8-10).

So our hope is that you will be blessed from week-to-week on Thursdays as we focus on living life "together in his grace," making our marriages and families stronger and our lives more full of joy. Those who share their insight here have witnessed the transforming power of God in the lives of broken families and seen those families — spouses, parents, children — healed and made strong. Please pray for those who share their insight and their understanding of God's will for couples and families. Let's make a commitment to help each other honor God in our marriages and our families.