Kiss and Tell – An Emmaus Counseling Marriage Seminar

Kiss and Tell – An Emmaus Counseling Marriage Seminar

The couple stood at the altar with eyes locked on each other. They were just moments away from becoming man and wife. Nothing mattered more in that moment than the love they shared for each other. 

Fast forward 11 years to a different time. His eyes are downcast and hers are filled with tears of sadness. He has just admitted to an affair. The vow they made on that day 11 years prior seemed to all of a sudden feel like an empty promise. 

Fast forward a few years more. Their eyes are locked on each other once again. This time, there is a sense of trust and peace that flows between them as they share their hearts and lives together. The gospel is central in their marriage and it has everything to do with the rebuilding of their relationship. “To God be the glory” they gladly proclaim for indeed, it is only through his grace that they can look each other in the eyes with a love that is rooted in something much deeper than what they found on their wedding day.

This couple is not just some fictitious example of how marriages can be destroyed. It is not an attempt to scare engaged couples on their way down the aisle. We tell you this story because this is a true story from one of our own.

An Emmaus couple has walked this difficult road. While their marriage is well on the way to renewal, the main issues that led to the downfall of their marriage mostly centered around communication and sex.

In our very first Emmaus Counseling Marriage Seminar, “Kiss and Tell,” you will get to hear from this couple as well as our Emmaus Counselors and a small panel of married couples. 

It is our hope that you will walk away with a renewed sense of how the gospel deeply impacts your marriage, day in and day out. However, we also want you to walk away with some practical tools and insights so that your marriage can flourish for the sake of the gospel. 

Will you and your spouse consider joining us? 

Our counselors, Tish Hedger and Jesse Masson, will be presenting on intimate topics of communication and sex. God designed marriage to be enjoyable, intimate, and to reflect His glory. Since these issues continue to be primary reasons for marriage counseling, this seminar will focus on professional views, biblical truths, and practical steps to help build (or rebuild) the necessary foundations for your healthy marriage.

This marriage seminar is open to the community, for engaged or married couples looking to improve their intimacy. The seminar format will allow opportunities for questions and interactions. 


When: Saturday, March 11 (9am-12:30pm)

Where: Emmaus Church (NO childcare provided)

Cost: $5/couple (Registration closes March 6)

Husband, Your Wife Needs Your Theology

Husband, Your Wife Needs Your Theology

I want to take you back to a scene you’re most likely familiar with. It’s a scene in which a deceptive snake is in dialogue with a woman in a garden. He says to her, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’… You will not surely die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

The story takes a heartbreaking turn as the woman sees that the fruit the deceiver was describing was desirable to her and so, with cosmic consequences, she takes and eats. Moreover, when she eats she turns to her husband and serves him the fruit that leads to death.

Due to the severity of the action and the consequences thereof, there’s much that can be – and has been – said about this back and forth. Yet, I’d like to add another to the conversation, a theologically equipped husband could have been a vital interjector at this junction.

Imagine Adam standing up at the beginning of the dialogue and saying, “Eve, no. We know that God, who gave us each other and the garden, is our satisfaction and delight. We lack nothing when we have him.”

While we’ll never know if this hypothetical situation would have changed the outcome, the moral remains; husbands should seek theological awareness for the good of their marriages.

Husbands, your wives, like Eve, are going to be bombarded by lies. Day in and day out she is going to be told things that are contrary to the gospel of Jesus Christ. She will be told that she needs to look a certain way, say certain things, and have certain items. She will be told that if she doesn’t meet a flawed societies view of femininity, that she has little or no worth. These lies will come from friends, co-workers, family, and often time, her own mind.

When the storm of lies washes upon your wife, many things will help you lead her well, and theology is certainly one of them. When the culture tells her she has little worth because she is lacking in some misconstrued area; you can assure her that because of her union with Christ she lacks nothing and that every good thing she needs has been secured for her in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. When she’s tempted to listen to the lies in her head about how she’s not good enough. You can assure her that her justification isn’t in how her co-workers or family perceive her; rather it’s in the atonement of a murdered son who took on flesh for her behalf.

I’m not saying that a man who has all of his theological ducks in a row is guaranteed to be a gifted husband. What I’m arguing for is that husbands who are thinking clearly about theology will have a unique ability to point their brides to the splendor and comfort of the Rock of Ages.

Husbands, your wives need you to deeply know the Lord and his ways. She needs you to think critically about the gospel.  She needs you to have sat in awe at the depth of Christ and be ready with all your might to show and lead her to the truth. She needs your theology.

ronni kurtzRonni Kurtz is the Pastor of Teaching and Equipping at Emmaus Church. His passions center around the gospel, his wife, historical and systematic theology and helping the people of Emmaus treasure Jesus. Ronni and his wife Kristen have been married for 3 years.

Do you have a family mission statement?

Do you have a family mission statement?

In October 2015, Tish and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary! This is no small thing in a culture that builds its identity upon narcissistic care for one’s self over sacrificial love of another. But that is exactly what marriage is. It is a covenant of sacrificial love and service to another at ones own expense.

To celebrate this milestone, we embarked on a fabulous trip to Colorado. For 5 days and 4 nights the two of us ate great food, saw great sites, and slept great numbers of hours! I believed we averaged 10 hours of sleep a night!

For the first 3 days we did nothing but rest. We drove through Rocky Mountain National Park and stopped to look at breathtaking views, magnificent Elk, and crazy little chipmunks that would climb into your hand. We spent a day in Vail, where we ate some of the best food we’ve ever had, strolled through the European-style streets and shops, and watched a movie.  We drove through the breathtaking Glenwood Canyon, sat on rocks by the roaring Colorado River, and spent the day in Glenwood Springs, where we walked through the cemetery that Doc Holiday is buried in. We ended the afternoon with a massage, mineral bath, and steam room at Spa of the Rockies.

Are you jealous yet? It was an incredible time. Why am I telling you all of this? Because it led to something greater.
On our fourth day, after a few days of rest and detox, we sat at a picnic table under an Aspen tree, next to the Colorado River, and we created our family mission statement. There are things we want to do as a family. We want to spend our days and our nights on purpose. We want to be a family that grows to love Jesus together, that spends our time serving each other and serving others. If marriage is a covenant of sacrificial loving and serving, then so is family.

Beyond that, we want to teach our children, and all those watching our family, that our relationship with our church is one of sacrificial love and service. So we crafted the following statement:

We seek to keep the gospel the center of our family by growing in godliness as we sacrificially love and serve in truth and action, while resting in the finished work of Jesus.

The goal of this family mission statement is to set the foundation for all that we spend ourselves on. We will be a family of the gospel. We will be a family that works hard at all we do. We will work hard to grow in godliness. We will sacrificially love each other and others in truth and in action. We will sacrificially serve each other and others in truth and action. We will do all of this, not to earn God’s approval, but from a place of rest in his already granted approval, which came through the finished work of his son on the cross.

From this mission statement, we created goals. Some are very simple. Some appear simple on paper, but are proving to be much more difficult to do in real life. Never the less, our goals help us to flesh out this mission statement and the statement helps us to have proper goals.

These goals are not laws and we do beat ourselves up when we fail to meet them, but they are goals and they do help us assess our health as a family of Christ followers.

I encourage your family to consider creating a family mission statement, evaluating your life, and orienting what you say yes and no to around an intentional mission.
I’m praying for you as you do this.


josh hedgerJoshua Hedger is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Emmaus Church. He is married to Tish and they have an adopted teen daughter and a biological toddler son. Joshua has served in several other ministry roles including Director of Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, planting another church, a youth pastor, and as a missionary in West Africa. 

10 Lessons from 9 Years of Marriage

10 Lessons from 9 Years of Marriage

This week I celebrate my nine-year wedding anniversary. As a result of getting married young, a big part of our journey has been growing up together. When I got married I thought that I was a secure and godly woman. Though it took little time for newlywed whiplash to set in as God revealed selfishness and pride that needed to be wrecked in my heart.

We have not arrived, nor will we ever, no matter how many precious days God gives us. The sanctifying work of marriage will continue until we meet our beautiful Jesus face to face. With this being said, I have asked Joshua to help me share with you some of what we have learned in nine years of marriage.

1. If there ever was a secret to marriage it would be forgiveness. Every time your heart clutches to its justification to hold onto to hurt, do not tolerate it. Any time our flesh cries out “It’s not fair!” Let us remember our Savior. He was without sin, gave up his rights as King of the Universe, came to earth to take our sin on himself to die the death we deserve. When we forgive we are loving Jesus well, as well as loving our spouse well.

2. Love is not a feeling to be felt but action to be practiced. New romance is exciting no doubt, but in our culture new love is taken and confused for the goal. I enjoy a good romantic comedy as much as the next girl. However, personal fulfillment and happiness are outgrowths of marriage, they cannot become our goal. Marriage is about bringing glory to God and about him working out holiness in our hearts. He brought you and your spouse together, not so you could “complete each other”, but so that your covenantal love and commitment would demonstrate the covenantal love of God shown through Christ. This illustrates to the world a love that is otherworldly.

3. Make friendship a priority. Take time to reconnect. In a typical week this looks like being intentional with each other for an hour or two every few days. I don’t mean staring into others eyes for an hour talking about the most intense things you can think of (and all the men said hallelujah). This looks like listening and responding to each other, playing a game together, going on a walk, making a date lunch or dinner happen, or a late night run for ice cream. Play together often. Learning to date and play together is vital for a healthy friendship. Whatever you enjoy doing, make it a priority and do it. Our marriages are a reflection of God’s relational essence towards mankind. This involves many different aspects, but delighting in each other is an important one.

Keep trying to enjoy each other’s hobbies, even if it doesn’t come naturally. I am still working on this one. I’m under no illusion that I will ever have the same capacity to enjoy watching so many different sports as often as my sweet husband. However, every year I get a little better at understanding and a little better at watching games. As for Joshua, he recently watched all five BBC episodes of Pride and Prejudice (the Herculean effort he exerted was not lost to me). And every time I reread one of my favorite classics he patiently listens as I read the same excerpts I’ve read to him a dozen times before. He still may not know the plot of Wuthering Heights or Jane Eyre, but give me 9 more years 😉

Take mini-vacays. I’ve heard it said a change of place and a change of pace results in a change of perspective. At least once a year Joshua and I get away for one or two nights. In the 365 days in a year take one or two days to invest in your friendship together and get away. It doesn’t have to be far away, just get out of the routine of life together. There have been times when we both were so emotionally and spiritually exhausted that what we needed was to read, journal, and to rest in solitude. Other times we have needed to hash through struggles, trials, and difficulties. While other times we’ve needed to be light-hearted and dream. And sometimes we have needed to be fed and we have gone to a conference to seek God together. All of these resulted in rich reconnection.

4. Show love to your spouse in the way they need. You may have noticed from #3 that I am a quality time girl. It is the primary way I receive and feel loved and it is the most natural way for me to give love. However, my husband is acts of service/kindness. I must be intentional in showing my husband love and appreciation in the way he most naturally receives and feels loved. Identify what each others primary love language is and start communicating to your spouse accordingly. (Words of Affirmation/Encouragement, Quality Time, Physical Touch, Gifts, and Acts of Service)

5. Learn to fight. This is a marriage skill that takes time and commitment to learn. And each marriage with its’ unique combination of personalities and backgrounds will be different. But two keys are to avoid the power plays of withholding communication and spewing in anger.

Don’t withhold communication. This often leads to a stockpiling of frustration or hurt that will eventually be dump-trucked on your spouse. Sometimes withholding comes from fear and/or sometimes it is from a desire to punish by withholding love. Do not let fear steal from the growth in your marriage and do not let the sin of punishing your spouse poison your intimacy. When we are stingy with what we are willing to share with God in prayer, the result is a breakdown of intimacy and a shutting down of surrender. The same is true in marriage. Avoidance builds a wall and stunts the growth in the relationship, while surrender and vulnerability makes love and intimacy the goal.

In your anger don’t sin. You may not be an avoider you may be a spewer. If you are married to an avoider nothing else will shut them down faster, and if you are married to another spewer the result will be explosive. Sometimes we can excuse harsh corrections or jabs as things “they needed to hear” or “it’s just the truth”. Our words need to be seasoned with the grace of the gospel. They are not meant to be weapons but communication is a tool to nourish and facilitate greater intimacy and growth.

6. Don’t try to fix her every concern. I didn’t realize this when we got married. Therefore, every time Tish’s heart spoke out a concern over any issue at all, I would feel responsible for fixing it, immediately. This led to me feeling like a failure because I wasn’t able to fix all of the concerns. I now know that I simply need to listen to the concerns and then later we can figure out what we need to do about some of them.

7. Don’t talk to your wife the way you do the guys at work. Can I get an amen husbands? I learned that when scripture says the wife is like porcelain, it meant it. A woman’s heart is very fragile. My Type A, Lion, High-D personality works great for production & high pressure at work. At home, however, I need to be gentle with my words, my tone, and my facial expressions.

8. Some drawers will never be closed and some trash bags will never be replaced. In case you were wondering, Tish is the one who leaves drawers open… everywhere. I am the one who doesn’t replace the trash bag after taking out the trash… ever. Early in our marriage I would get so frustrated with Tish about the drawers and she would get frustrated with me about the trash bags. Nine years in, I don’t think we even ask each other to try anymore. We’ve simply learned that there are some things not worth getting frustrated over. Drawers and trash bags are those things.

9. It’s okay if you rest in different ways. I like to spend a Saturday by waking up around 7:30-8:00, reading, being productive with whatever needs done, and THEN relaxing. Tish likes to spend a Saturday sleeping in past 8:00, resting and relaxing all morning, and then being productive later in the day. Early in marriage I would try to force her to rest my way, and she would try to force me to do it her way. Over the years we’ve learned that some weeks go my way, other weeks go her way, and some weeks we get both of our ways and we are ok with that. This may blow your minds men, but your wife should not be just like you.

10. Remind your wife and yourself that marriage is your greatest adventure in this life. I know what some of you are thinking; “Jesus is my greatest adventure in this life.” Touché. That is true. But of all of the callings and responsibilities he’s given you in this life, I would argue that marriage is the greatest adventure. It’s the adventure that best displays the gospel to the world (Eph. 5). This adventure was given to us by God, to daily remind the world, and ourselves of the gospel. Marriage is an adventure, given to us by God, until the day that our spouse or we pass away. My prayer is that this adventure would last much longer than any job we have or church we serve. Long after there are people to pastor, there will be a wife to serve. It is easy, especially as a man, to get distracted by other adventures – success at work, pastoring my church, making money, winning battles in life, etc. The night my wife asked me if she was still my adventure was the night that I determined she would never have to ask me that question again.


josh hedgerJoshua Hedger is the Pastor of Preaching & Vision at Emmaus Church. He is married to Tish and they have an adopted teen daughter and a biological toddler son. Joshua has served in several other ministry roles including Director of Church Planting at Midwestern Seminary, planting another church, a youth pastor, and as a missionary in West Africa. 

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