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97: Pre-marital Counseling


What You'll Discover in this Episode:

Pre-marital Counseling

An interview with Michael Baker

Michael Baker from Renfrew Church South Carolina has been serving as a pastor for 2 1/2 years. Prior to that, he was a youth associate pastor at the same church for 12 years.

What is pre-marital counseling?

In pre-marital counseling, the first thing we want to know is if they're qualified to proceed. We challenge them to understand by sharing testimonies. Here we also talk about what being equally yolked looks like. In pre-marital counseling, we want know that we're doing with two believers sold out for Christ and doing things His way. We don't proceed with marriage cog, we switch to evangelism!

At this point, we have not started counseling yet. We're just getting to know one another.

It's not enough that you are a member of Church. This does not mean you already have a relationship with Christ. Has your heart been transformed and is your heart desire to follow Christ? During this time, we check and see if the couple understands the difference. It becomes a great evangelistic moment as they are given the opportunity to relearn and show the love of Christ.

2 Key Foundational Principles
1. Are they unequally yolked?
2. Are they born again?

Pre-marital counseling is relational. Getting to know the couple is an important first step.

Session One: The Covenant

After getting to know the couple, we get to know the reasons what brought everyone to this session. This is all about the covenant. We speak more about what the covenant is. We look at how God sees marriage and His involvement. In Malachi 2, He gives us the warning of how to deal with our spouse. In
Genesis 15, we see the seriousness of the covenant.

By letting them know more about the covenant, they can qualify themselves if they're ready for the commitment. We reiterate that God is the head and we treat one another as brothers and sisters in Christ, children of God, precious in His sight.

Session Two/Three: Biblical Love and Communication

Marriage is self-giving. We're entering in a relationship where we're seeking to serve Christ by serving our spouse and take joy in that. We begin to set up for "communication" by learning to understand our spouse. We talk about how God has created that man or woman sitting in front of them. Self-giving love seeks to speak love in a way that is about them instead of "what I can get".

This session talks about our words, our body language, how we serve and all about communication. The couple may spend time talking about issues that are already seen in that area.


There's usually more than six sessions for pre-marital counseling. When we get past the roles of husband wife, what managing a home, and what submission looks like, we begin to see if they are brought together and the timing is right. At this point, we see if they're ready to give the love that God has commanded and that they are in love with the Lord first and foremost.

An additional gauge for readinesses can be done through electronic journalling. By using 2 Timothy 3:16-17 method of journaling, they journal scriptures studied. This allows a biblical counselor to see the interaction when the couple is away from the counseling room.

What are the top marriage counseling matters?

Neglect within the relationship
Husband refusing to lead
Emotional affairs
Communication failure
Children leaving

4 Laws of Communication from Ephesians 4

1. Be honest. Speak the truth in love.
2. Be angry and yet do not sin. Keep current.
3. Attack the problem and not the person.
4. Act and don't react.

The Lord says be kind to one another, forgiving each other. If we are acting in these manners, when problems occur and we can communicate in the current and in love, then healing will then take place.

  • Liel Kirk says:

    Thank you Pastor Jeff, for investing your time in sowing into others through this podcast, and thank you Pastor Michael for your heart towards shepherding young men and women into healthy, God-honoring relationships. I loved the progression of the sessions, and I deeply appreciate the emphasis put on both being believers and equally yoked. I also appreciated that the potential discovery of one being a non-believer was not dreaded, but rather seen as a divine appointment for that soul. I loved the standard of having the husband to be pray the sessions out–such a wise and sweet way to discern the state of a heart. Using Ephesians 4 as a guideline for healthy communication is brilliant! Honesty must be the foundation, which leads into keeping short accounts. When bringing up an offense in honesty there must also be a separation between the person and the problem; the problem is the thing to be ‘attacked.’ Lastly was the principle of developing the self-control to act and not RE-act. Being built upon Biblical love, these rules of communication fall into and balance each other very nicely. Thank you so much for taking the time to share!

  • Desiree DuCharme says:

    Pastor Jeff and Pastor Michael, this podcast was very insight! When I first saw the title I thought, “well there can’t be much to this one.” Only because I now realize my premarital counseling sessions with my husband before we got married were not very thorough or in-depth. At that time I was just starting to really live out my faith and had never heard of premarital counseling before so I didn’t have any expectations.
    Happy to say my husband and I are well! The need for deep and even hard questions is so necessary for engaged couples. Especially those who are “head over hills” and forget about the natural fleshly desires as they can contrast with the Spirit’s.
    I agree, communication is key! The Bible even shows what a significance adding or taking away a SINGLE word can have. (Not that we should focus on every small thing.) When my husband and I went to counseling a couple of years ago I remember how validating it was when the biblical counselor MADE him repeat what I was saying verbatim. We can easily think “ oh I get the gist of it.” When in fact the whole meaning is found through body language, mannerisms and what was actually said.
    For that reason when Pastor Mike was talking about speaking about facts and attacking the problem and not each other, I was so encouraged and excited to hear him speak about things that really do matter. Also thank you Pastor Michael for the Bible verses that solidify you communication points. I hope to use them from now on.

  • Jessica Hunter says:

    Thank you Pastor Jeff and Pastor Michael for this podcast episode. It was quite interesting to listen to someone who has built such a strong counseling ministry, and in the town they grew up in no less! I found it very informative how Michael used Ephesians 4:25-32 as an outline for the ‘4 Rules of Communication’. Whether these 4 rules would be applied in or out of a counseling session they provide a framework for all relationships in our life. In this same regard I applied the referral to 2 Timothy 3:16-17 “All scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. Near the end of the episode Pastor Jeff asks Pastor Michael how he is able to determine when a couple is ready for Marriage. While Pastor Michael goes on to answer this questions essentially saying that once the couple completes a minimum of 6 weeks of his counseling and exhibits a shared love for God they are ready to “graduate” & move onto marriage. However when the questions became POST MARRIAGE COUNSELING questions, I felt it intriguing that Pastor Michael said there seems to be a trend in couples that he felt “were rock solid & strong” ending up needing Marriage counseling. It’s humbling to think that even those who are deemed “rock solid” in the eyes of our peers stumble, can be guilty of neglect in relationships and need counsel.

  • Sumit Das says:

    Great podcast, with Pastor Michael Baker! What stood out to me particularly were the four rules of communication, based on Ephesians 4:25-32. The first rule: Be honest, speak the truth in love. This rule is an essential starting point because the absence of truth in any relationship destines it for failure. Although speaking the truth in love isn’t always easy, God in His wisdom knew that anything less would result in a train-wreck. The second rule: Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, exhorts believers to stay current. Harboring bitterness and resentment from the past opens the door for the devil to wreak havoc in a relationship. The third rule: Attacking the problem, not the person, means not allowing our emotions to cloud our perspective. By sticking to the issue at hand, we can avoid this pitfall. Finally, the fourth rule: Act, not react, exhorts us to respond in the Spirit rather than react in our flesh. I really enjoyed the podcast and was blessed by it. Blessings

  • michael Gomez says:

    Thank you for the Podcast Pastor Jeff and Pastor Michael! This is really great for me because I am just now starting a premarital counseling with a young couple and everything is right on point! This helps me so much and gives me the 4 rules of communication to work with which we will integrate in just as you explained. Our sessions have already started so we have the Husband (to be) praying out at the end of the session and you are so right it does speak volumes on how he speaks to the Lord in that time. I believe the testimony is really important to hear in the first session as well. In our case the young couple has not really known each other for long so they think they know each other but something tells me there is more to be discovered and to deal with. I am fired up and anxious to meet with them again to implement more of what was spoken about today I will also include some Journaling to the discipleship. That is exactly how it should be seen is discipleship most couples don’t really think about that until confronted with the prospect of making Jesus the center of their marriage. Again thank you both for your ministries please continue to be used of the Lord!

  • Becky says:

    Hello Pastor Baker,
    I loved the podcast this week! You lead your pre-marital counseling classes almost exactly as my husband does ours! I told him about the idea of having the students journal through the scriptures and he loved it! Pre-marital counseling is my favorite counseling. They are usually so open and excited to share, even very difficult situations. We just finished the longest pre-marital counselling that we have ever had, because of Covid and some underlying issues, it took over a year. It ended up being a discipleship class, really walking with this couple through a tough time with their families, and helping them to make godly decisions and to solidify their faith. Most of the time it is 6 – 8 sessions.
    I really loved the way you expounded on Ephesians 4 and drew from them the Four Laws of Communication. You can see the couples that put this into practice, how blessed their marriages are, and the couples that have a communication breakdown, and how many difficulties they incur.

    I think I am definitely going to use this, and might even put this on my fridge so that my teens will see it as well 🙂

    The four laws of communication

    1. Be honest – speak, speak truth, speak truth in love v25
    2. Keep current. Deal with your issues as quickly as possible v 26
    3. Attack the problem and not the person v29
    4. Act and don’t react v32

    It has been a great class Pastor Jeff, thank you so much for everything! You have been a great teacher! I look forward to what the Lord has in store next module!

  • Leslie says:

    Thank you pastor Michael for sharing on biblical marital counseling! I have only been married for 18 months and we are both believers and my husband just took a pastoral position- so I know in time we will be called to do marital counseling. Our pastor only gave us one pre-marital session and I had wished we would have had more, to discuss many of these topics together. But I am excited to use this out line in the future if God opens those doors, and to have an understanding of what marital counseling looks like. Some important points that stand out are- being equally yoked as well as what a covenant is before God. And the ways to communicate during a session or at home. I love that you start with both sharing testimonies and the husband praying. I hope to continue to gain knowledge and grow in this area.

    • Becky says:

      Hi Leslie, Congratulations! What a great way to start your marriage! I started in the ministry when we had been married for just two years – we packed for an 18 month mission trip to France and this year it will be 24 years! I believe that the Lord is going to give you those sessions of pre-marital counseling as you do this degree, and then some. There is so much internal reflection, so much growth as you study the Word in an intense way. I think the Lord has incredible blessings for you as you set out to serve Him, and to be better equipped to serve Him!

  • Kristine Flores says:

    Hi Pastor Baker, thank you for joining the Podcast and giving us so much wisdom on the steps you take in pre-marital counseling. I have never been a part of pre-marital counseling, and all the steps you gave are very helpful tools on what that should look like. First step being, is the couple equally yoked, if not, you don’t even proceed. Powerful but such a line in the sand stance. Question, what if two people have a child together, and one is a professing Christian and the other partner is not, and now they are desiring to get married? I serve women with unplanned pregnancies, and many of them are in this situation. I always say having a child makes a man a father, not necessarily a husband. Those in this online community, what are some of your thoughts on that kind of situation?

    I love how you also explained the importance of having them understand the difference between a covenant and a contract. Giving Biblical examples of the seriousness of a covenant and what that looks like in a marriage. Such great wisdom there. Then the steps that follow, understanding Biblical love, communication and how to talk to one another, as well as understanding their roles, managing the home and submission, what that looks like in each of their roles.

    It is also so important to understand that Marriage counseling can continue even after years of marriage. I would think that it is always beneficial to continue doing “marriage maintenance” throughout marriage, as seasons change, sanctification grows, and life contains more hardships, trials and burdens. So thankful that when Christ and His word is the Anchor, a marriage can glorify God and flourish even in the difficulties.

    Rules of Communication: Ephesians 4:25-32
    1) Be Honest – speak truth in love, factual not just emotional
    2) Keep Current – or short accounts, deal with things quickly
    3) Attack the Problem not the Person – you are on the same team
    4) Act & Don’t React – one is emotional and one is wisdom

    “God expects us to compete to love one another more” –Such a great quote.<3

  • Rick Shatos says:

    Hi Pastor Michael; thank you for joining the podcast today. As you spoke about your session 2 topic of Biblical love, you pointed out the we each speak and receive love differently. My wife and I have been married now for 33 years; about 12 years ago we participated in a Sunday School class that went through the book “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. This whole concept was quite eye opening; it really illuminated the reason for some turbulence we had experienced in our relationship. What we learned was that the #1 way my wife gives and receives love was my #2; yet my #1 way was at the very bottom of her list. Learning this has helped me understand that when I am feeling unloved, I just need to listen to her actions in another language; one I know she speaks well.

    • Becky says:

      Hi Rick, my husband and I went through the very same situation! It was such a help to look at these things and to realise that we just weren’t communicating what we meant to communicate to each other! Then, once we realised that the other person receives love differently, we were able to minister to each other in a better way! It also helped in church life, to learn to listen to people more, read their body language, and observe what their love language was. It really helped to be able to minister to people in a way that they are able to receive.

      • Great points Becky! Learning love languages to help us to listen to other people better, notice another person’s body language and recognizing how others give and receive love to help us to minister to people in a way that they are able to receive the message that is being conveyed, is a great reason to learn what’s being taught in this book.

        I’m excited to read it, and take the test with my husband, and am going to order this book.

        • jeffchristianson says:

          I know a lot of people have found help using the Love Languages, however, there are some cautions that need to be pointed out. This link provides a 3-minute overview that I found helpful:

          • Thank you Pastor Jeff! I just watched the podcast and truly it makes a LOT of sense. I can see how this could cause much anxiety through expectations, and cause more harm than good to those who use this book’s examples as their expectation to happiness…the tank is constantly running low, so the other person has to discern “if” they are “acting” the way they are, because their tank is low; then, they have to discern what the correct course of action is – all the time.

            When we fill ourselves with Christ daily, we are supplied with a joy that cannot come from anything else. Our lives being about Christ, fills us with all that we need in order to love better. I know personally, that when I have gone a couple of days without taking in Jesus, I feel sort of agitated and then realize, “oh wow, it’s been a couple of days (weekend) since I’ve had to do any homework.” With our classes, we are disciplined to spend time each day in the Word, and this, then, keeps our tanks filled, and then we go forth with Christ in us, and we are able to love others better.

            Thanks for this information and thanks for the link!

      • Rick Shatos says:

        Hi Becky, I am so glad it was a useful tool for you and your husband; and that you carried it further, using it to help you love others and connect with them for the furtherance of the faith.
        Blessings and Peace to you and your family 🙂

    • Rick, I too was moved by the way Dr.Chapman reminded me that God created us to give and receive love. I most definitely was not speaking the language of my wife when I read his book but I was convicted to study my wife and seek to better speak in a way that… God truly blessed the study of His word and my bride! The Bible commands that we should “Treat your wife with understanding as you live together…(1 Peter 3:7). What an honor and privilege to study and know our God and His precious gift to me. These types of studies are very productive in the church as they flesh out Matthew 22:38-40!

    • Wow Rick! This book is incredible! Thank you for mentioning this!
      I just went and looked up this book and I’ll be ordering it. 🙂
      I think that this would be a great fun activity to incorporate into premarital sessions as well as used to counsel those whose relationships are in turmoil over some type of feeling incompatible; getting to, or getting back to their marital love language.
      I can’t wait to read this book and recruit my husband to do this with me!

      • Rick Shatos says:

        Hi Kristi, I do hope you do find it helpful for both your marriage and your ministries. Please do watch the 3 minute video recommended by Pastor Jeff, and then prayerful prepare you hearts to be led by the motivations of the Spirit, not the flesh.
        Peace and joy!

    • jeffchristianson says:

      I know a lot of people have found help using the Love Languages, however, there are some cautions that need to be pointed out. This link provides a 3-minute overview that I found helpful:

      • Rick Shatos says:

        Hi Pastor Jeff, Thank you very much for sharing this link; as with most books (other than the Word of God) there are always things to watch out for, and it is good to know of them so that as we read, we glean what is helpful and set aside what is not. Additionally, when we adopt a perspective or teaching, we each need to evaluate the motives of our heart in adopting them; as the 3-minute video pointed out, our motives cannot be selfish, to just get more of what we want. In fact, once we gain and adopt new insight, we must be ready to rise to the level of maturity and responsibility it may require. Take the 5 love languages for example; consider that you and your spouse have gone through it and learned that each of you receives love very differently. You embark to love your spouse in the way or ways they can receive it best; however, your spouse does not reciprocate; they make little to no effort to adapt the way they show you love. This is where your character and maturity will be challenged.
        Thank you again for being a good Pastor and loving us enough to caution us when and where needed. May you be a 100 fold plant for God.

  • Anita Geisinger says:

    Thank you, Pastor Michael and Pastor Jeff for this inspiring podcast. Pastor Jeff, your questions were right on target! Pastor Michael, I really appreciate how you have organized the counsel that you provide into key principles based exclusively on God’s word.
    You began with the most important questions – are you equally yoked and are you born again?
    I especially liked the 4 laws of communication which can be taught in pre-marital as well as post-marital counseling since these are based on Ephesians 4 and so are reliable for building a relationship in the way God has designed. Since these principles are based on God’s word they are undeniable and enable us to check if we are following God’s way through self-reflection.
    May the Lord bless you, your family, your ministry, and the many marriages you are blessing through the teaching of God’s word.

    • Rick Shatos says:

      Hi Anita, I too appreciate the way Pastor Michael broke the counselling into clear and critical sessions; all which are so important for those pursuing marriage to discuss beforehand so that it will be started on a good foundation instead of just emotions and desires.
      We learn to walk selflessly through our relationship with Jesus Christ, and this precious characteristic is critical for marriage.
      Be Blessed, Rick

      • Jessica Hunter says:

        @RickShatos – agreed. As it is our human nature to be selfish, praise God that he is our beacon North and through his word we can be inspired to live through his grace! I love how you have brought up the point of importance of building a marriage on a strong foundation of God’s word vs. our carnal emotions & desires. Thank you for sharing!

  • Kendal Keating says:

    Thank-you pastor Michael and Pastor Jeff! This was excellent! So much information packed in a short time yet succinct and powerful. My husband and I did not grow up in the church. Did not have any pre-marital counseling and I was a new believer when we married and my husband was yet to be a believer. So …. we have experienced the consequences of being married in the worldly sense. And after Satan almost destroyed our marriage God has transformed it and we started discipling marriages. We started when ours was still a mess but we were at the mercy of God and His leading and therefore used that to lead others. For the last 20 years we have done pre-marital counseling and marriage counseling and our hard life lessons have become a blessing in this area. We have had much training in these years but I think your Eph. 4 on communication is one of the best tools I can’t wait to use!! So simple yet so profound! Be honest, speak truth in love. Keep anger current and resolved. Attack problem not person. Act but don’t react! Be kind. Communication is key as my husband always says because almost any problem can be solved if you can communicate. Hidden in the 4 laws of communication is also conflict resolution. The attack problem not person. And with communication and the ability to resolve conflict marriages are set up for success! Such a great podcast and hope you two do more!

    • Josiah Hart says:

      Isn’t amazing when we realize that God has given us everything we need for every situation and all in the book we call the Bible. He has not left anything to our own imagination! And that I am so thankful, because when we are left to our own desires it always ends up in destruction. God’s Word is sufficient for everything! And what an amazing testimony you and your husband have from ashes to beauty! He restores lives and as your marriage you said was falling apart He stepped in and poured out His love, His mercy, His forgiveness and now not only do you reflect him in your personal life but also in your marriage! Praise God! and you are helping others receive that which you received! Discipleship!

    • Anita Geisinger says:

      Your story reminds me of Kintsugi, the beautiful traditional Japanese art of repairing broken vases and pots which results in even more beautiful and valuable vessels. You didn’t give up on each other but turned to the Lord who restored your broken hearts and made your marriage a work of art. Now He is working through you like a master potter to rebuild those who dare to risk their relationships with Him. Your biography would be a great inspiration to those from whom Satan is stealing the joy of their marriage. Well done and praise the Lord!

    • Leslie says:

      Thank you for sharing your marriage testimony. I love that God still used you to minister even in troubling times- it shows his grace and Mercy and his ability to redeem/restore.

  • Carolyn Cote says:

    Thank you Jeff for having a guest!
    Hi Michael! What an awesome set of guidelines for pre-marital counseling. Thank you! I think I picked up the focus of the six sessions: Are you both believers? What is a covenant vs. a contract? What is Biblical love? What are the roles of man and woman? Man is the head. What is submission?
    I also like the private study journal that you read to gain insight into each couple.
    Using Ephesians 4 for teaching the Four Laws of Communication is inspired. 1. Be honest–so many spouses are afraid to be honest. 2. Be angry and sin not–One observation I’ve had often this year is how brewed anger leads to retaliatory sin behavior: “if he/she is going to sin in that area, well, I’ll sin in this area.” Eph 4:26 exposes how stored anger leads to the devil getting this foothold. 3. Address the problem, not the person–so good for reorienting away from personal attacks. 4. Act/Don’t react. Not sure what this means. Could you elaborate?
    Thanks again. I see an outline forming for my own counseling for marriage difficulties.

    • Carolyn, in response to your observation… We could work those four rules or guidelines to communicate backward and we would find the answer to the observation: If we are not walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16) then we will naturally gratify our flesh and all of the put-ons in Ephesians 4:32 are of no effect rendering our communication ineffective and self-seeking.

      (4) We will constantly react as we are not prepared to minister to our spouse
      (3) We will constantly attack our spouse
      (2) We will live in the past and be overwhelmed in the present
      (1) In the end is a stalemate

      The Act and don’t React is built upon walking in the Spirit daily… living in His presence as the Spirit will provoke peace, kindness, compassion, and most certainly an environment of forgiveness.
      Loved your interaction and hope this helps to clarify.

  • josiah hart says:

    Pastor Michael Baker, Pastor Jeff, Thank you for this podcast! Having Marriages today within the church that represent What God has ordained from the beginning is so needed. My wife and I just celebrated 22 years of Marriage. We met at Calvary Chapel Bible College and I remember her and I before we got engaged went through a pre-marital book with Pastor Tom on campus. Now we did this because we wanted to make sure that we were going to be doing things the right way! Since She was from Germany and she was graduating and I still had a year left we wanted to make sure that we were on the same page and had a firm solid foundation in the Word of God to build our relationship on rather than just the emotional foundation that is in the “in love” “honeymoon stage”.
    We have learned so much over the years and have seen so many of our friends from bible college who are no longer together for so many reasons.
    One thing that we focused on was communication, without that how can a relationship grow?
    Pastor Michael I am so thankful that these 4 “Laws” of communication are grounded in the Word of God. These make them not burdensome but allow for us as couples to be covered in the Grace of our Lord as we learn to live and communicate with each other.
    4 Laws of Communication from Ephesians 4
    1. Be honest. Speak the truth in love.
    2. Be angry and yet do not sin. Keep current.
    3. Attack the problem and not the person.
    4. Act and don’t react.

    Marriage Paul says is a picture of the relationship God has with the church, If the world and those around me see a marriage that is falling apart then most likely my relationship with God is doing the same. When my relationship with God is not right, I find myself at the foot of the cross seeking forgiveness and restoration and mercy. Anytime my wife and I have found ourselves at odds with each other for whatever reason and we are off we always have a common ground where we can find something to agree on. That is at the foot of the cross and there Mercy and Grace is poured out and we are able to get footing and a new place to start from! It is there that the 4 Laws of Communication take root in our hearts because they are grounded in Christ.
    Thank you again! May we always reflect Christ in every aspect of our lives!

    • Carolyn Cote says:

      Such a beautiful testimony of God’s hand in your life Josiah! The act of you on your knees in repentance when you know your relationship with Him is suffering, is awesome. Everything needed starts with repentance, doesn’t it?
      I use an acronym called “A.P.P.L.E. when counseling others on how to respond to guilt:
      Ask yourself, “Am I feeling guilty?”
      Ponder, “Have I sinned? What is the sin?”
      Pray and ask God for forgiveness.
      Leave that sin behind.
      Enjoy your restored relationship with God.

      • Josiah Hart says:

        Such a great acronym! Ask. Ponder. Pray.Leave.Enjoy. Amen! When we are not right with God how then can we expect anything in our life to be right! Just as you pointed out, Everything needed starts with repentance! When I am right with Christ then I can love my wife as Christ loved the church! Then my marriage will reflect to the World as it should and people around us should see Jesus!

      • Wow I love The A.P.P.L.E. acronym thank you so much may I use it? I like the process of evaluation and that brings clarity and gets us to understand what we really need to confess and forsake. If not for that process we may miss out on the truth needed to really repent! I have seen many people skip the sin issue and just ask for general forgiveness without acknowledging what was done or seeking to never go back in hopes of finally breaking the cycle of sin only to find themselves in the cycle once again….

        • Carolyn Cote says:

          YES! Please use it and with my blessing. APPLE is awesome for children too!

          • Jessica Hunter says:

            @CarolynCote YES! I love the A.P.P.L.E. acronym and have already found it helpful in an issue that I was working out with my child. In our household we talk thru some of these principles when disciplining; however this acronym gives the “talking points” organization and a fun way to relate. Thanks so much for sharing!

          • Carolyn Cote says:

            Awesome. Praise God!

    • Kendal Keating says:

      Thank-you for sharing some of your story with us! I too loved the 4 laws of communication. And I, like you, especially love that they come right from scripture. So often we are using other tools that without us even thinking of what message that sends that the bible is not sufficient! To be able to open God’s word and directily apply scripture to communication is invaluable to me and my journey in discipling and counseling couples!

      • I really think that the 4 Laws are great too! What tools we have been given! The word of God is so exciting there are so many messages that teach us with clarity and power may I never forget that. God bless you.

    • Anita Geisinger says:

      What a beautiful story of a marriage founded and built on God’s word! I like what you wrote, “One thing that we focused on was communication, without that how can a relationship grow?” This is so true and through good communication, we can learn so much about each other and begin to trust one another more, and learn to accept each other with both weaknesses and strengths. Because there is no fear in love. One of the main reasons that many marriages break up is when couples begin to take each other for granted, communicate less, doubt one another, and fail to give each other first priority.

    • Leslie says:

      Thanks for sharing some of your testimony! I especially loved the part where you said that if our marriage is falling apart it can be an indication that our relationship with God might be falling apart. If our relationship with God is solid than our relationship with our spouse will most likely be!

    • Becky says:

      It is amazing how often, it comes back to the initial intention for marriage. The true plan for marriage was to reflect the relationship with God and the church. How often, when I am checking my own heart, or ministering to others, does it come back to this essential truth. Just the other day I was talking with someone about the issue of marrying a non-believer, and how it is, at the core, off the mark of what God intended for marriage, because how could marriage represent the Ephesians 5 model if one is not even a believer, there is no possible way that they could. Even with Christ, it takes a lifetime of sanctification.

      • Desiree DuCharme says:

        Hi Becky, that is true. I often wonder where I would be or even who I would be if I hadn’t married a strong Spiritual leader… very very different and fickle in my faith I imagine.
        Sometimes the Holy Spirit taps me on my shoulder when my husband and I are joking around and I say, “You’re suppose to love me like God loves the church!” – often times it is because he wont let me warm my feet up on him. Then I sense the Holy Spirit “call me out” and ask, “well are you acting the way the church is suppose to act and are you just as loving?” Which is usually me being convicted for the way I said something earlier or even just forgetting to say “thank you.”

        What a blessing it is to be part of a marriage with the same love for the Lord. I imaging others who are unequally yoked are torn much of the time.

  • Hello Pastor Michael! It was certainly terrific to hear this podcast on Biblical Counseling within the church atmosphere and how God broke your heart for preparing young folks to learn how to do life, God’s way. I stood in agreement in prayer over your son John Baker; exclaiming “THANK YOU God for raising up the next generation of Christian’s in the political Arena!” How desperately we need Christians to flood our government, with all of the darkness that currently has overtaken it, which is evident that we truly are in a spiritual battle.
    God broke my heart for those who are hurting, and in emotional turmoil, that ended in homelessness; those who are in cyclical spiritual depravity. I am married to a Pastor and we have, as far as we have known and heard of, the only ministry in all of Nevada that is 100% outside. January we celebrated 13 years. How I have prayed for a location that would accept these people and begin to help their healing and disciple journey. So many have been so hurt by the world, that trusting anyone is “almost” non-existent. It is by love that we reach them, and sometimes it takes Years.

    I was inspired by the message that was given on how Biblical Counseling is initiated in the filling out of the marital registration, and using that information to learn a little more about the engaged couple. If they are not members of the church, this is an awesome opportunity to minister to them; even non-church goers want to have a beautiful church wedding. Then in the first session you see if they are “qualified!” I think by explaining that you need to see if they are qualified initiates just how serious the marriage covenant truly is, and will take them to a level of realization that marriage isn’t just about proposing and saying “I do.” But that it is truly a serious covenant that God does not want them to jump into without being equipped. There might be just a short window of opportunity to minister to them, if they realize that they are not marriage material (realizing that they haven’t even been Spiritually equipped for Heaven)

    There is something that is incredibly strong, and special, and moving, in ~ hearing the husband-to-be tell of the story of how he was reconciled to Christ, how they met, why he believes they are equally yoked, what he is prepared to bring to the marriage covenant. I read Malachi 2 under the marriage lens, in place of the “God rebuking his priests and warns of judgement” lens and it incredibly provides a general meaning and a special meaning in relation to marriage. This is a grand entrance to Biblical Love, and then proceeding to the 4 Rules of Communication.

    Ephesians 4:25-32
    #25 says to put off the “old self” which refers to believing something other than Christ and the Cross, everything other than Christ and Him Crucified is a lie;
    #26 says the only “anger” allowed is righteous anger; all other anger is a result of the “old man” and must be put off. This deals with our emotions which can only be properly settled by the Holy Spirit.
    #27 Properly putting our Faith in the Cross, gives the devil no room
    #28 Christlikeness gives high moral standards: we are to earn our living by whatever honest method is at our disposal; instead of taking from others, we can now give to others
    #29 Let no slander or faithlessness proceed out of your moth; does what we are saying build up or tear down? We are to be a blessing.
    #30 speaking of evil or worthless words is repugnant to the Holiness of the Spirit; we are sealed unto the Day of Redemption, as the Holy Spirit is Himself the Seal God has placed on “us”
    #31 As the Believer puts all Faith in the Cross and keeps Faith in the Cross, giving the holy Spirit latitude to work, these evil things can then be put away from our lives
    #32 Be quick to forgive; Christ’s forgiveness of us is to always be the basis of our forgiveness of others.
    So, these are the explanations in my expository Bible, but applying them to the married-couple-in-waiting bottom-line principle is conspicuous. I am actually going to save this information for future use! How incredibly important to look at your spouse as in how we are connected to Christ. I think we should go forward with the mentality of  if we say or do it, is it acceptable to Christ; and, would we repeat the behavior to Christ himself?

    • Carolyn Cote says:

      So impressed with your very thorough answer Kristi! Although Malachi 2 speaks to the divorcing party as the man, do you think that this passage also applies and could be used for the surge in Christian women doing the same? I don’t know the statistics but I’m guessing more women initiate divorce in the U.S. these days than men. Women have taken control of their households while at the same time resent a passive husband. It’s rare to find a wife who respects and submits to their husband and something I too fail in at times!

      • Hi Carolyn,
        That’s so nice of you to say, thank you my dear sister.
        When I was looking up Malachi 2 I was looking in The Expositor’s Study Bible KJV. The heading for verses 1-9 talks about how God rebukes his priests and warns them of judgement, and verses 10-17 talks about the treachery of Judah and the judgement for treachery. Each of these topics I did not relate to the marriage lens; rather, I related them to the topic that is listed in the Bible. When Pastor Michael Baker said in “Malachi 2 – He gives us the warning of how we deal with our spouses,” I went back and looked at these scriptures under the marriage lens with what the Lord expects in marriage with how we deal with our spouses.
        Examples just from verses 1-3 “We are required to hear and lay it on our heart or be cursed; corruption will be upon the seed” (children)… this is serious.

        As far as Christian women doing the same, I believe that secular women overuse their strength and is part of the decline in marriage; simultaneously, women, I believe, are partially the cause of the passiveness of men and probably do initiate divorce moreso then men. I don’t know the statistics; I haven’t looked up those kinds of statistics since I studied law in 2006. I know that I don’t always agree with my husband’s logic or reasoning, as he doesn’t always explain to me his logic or reasoning, and I am also guilty of exerting strength; however, I always give him the final word. If I feel so strongly about something that I feel he needs to consider, I will voice it; he knows that if I voice it, it is because I have a valid reason with all seriousness behind it. He also respects that, ponders on it, prays on it, and then responds to my reason. I am okay with that. I don’t always agree, but I want to be a Proverbs 31 woman, and I want to hear “well done good and faithful servant,” so I respect his position in our trio (3-strand chord).

        (I know you have the Bible, but I’m just putting it here for anyone to view who may see this outside of our class, as I am sharing these podcasts on our Loaves & Fishes group page)
        God rebukes HIS priests, warns them of judgment
        And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
        2 If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the Lord of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
        3 Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
        4 And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
        5 My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
        6 The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
        7 For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.
        8 But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.
        9 Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.

        The Treachery of Judah; Judgment for Treachery
        10 Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?
        11 Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the Lord which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
        12 The Lord will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the Lord of hosts.
        13 And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the Lord with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
        14 Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the Lord hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
        15 And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
        16 For the Lord, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the Lord of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
        17 Ye have wearied the Lord with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?

    • Kendal Keating says:

      I too was excited to hear about Pastor Michael’s son. I don’t think I have ever heard a pastor excited about his son going into politics and that is probably one reason we are in this mess in our country! I am praying for his son in entering this arena to bring with him the power of God. The David mentality with Goliath. The battle is the Lords! But we need David’s to show up and bring that empowerment to politics!

      • Oh Kendal how right I feel that you are! We truly need more David’s (I come in the name of the Lord!) mentality, faith, strength, biblical knowledge; and with youth on his side, changes sure could be made over his time in government. I pray that he “gets all” that the Lord has for him to learn, and, become a leader in his graduating class (class government; president maybe). I hope he stands firm, and his posture and position in Christ is respected, that he leads many to Christ in school and after! The secular educational system is indoctrinating corruption; they say, “if you want to pass, you will do/say things the way we teach you.” I have personally experienced this; hence, I left. I sure hope he “stands.”

      • Kendal, Thank you so much for the prayers for John as we know this journey will be a difficult one, but one that the Lord will use the willing and empower John through His Spirit to shine His light into a dark world. John and I talk about the “Salt and Light” dynamic regularly! When He calls us to serve it is His battle.

    • Kristine Flores says:

      Yes Kristi, I agree with you that there is “something that is incredibly strong, and special, and moving, in ~ hearing the husband-to-be tell of the story of how he was reconciled to Christ, how they met, why he believes they are equally yoked, what he is prepared to bring to the marriage covenant.” I love the way you put all of that. I also think there is something beautiful about hearing a husband to be lead his wife to be in prayer each week, to hear His heart for the Lord and towards the Lord each week. I was married 5 months pregnant with our second child at a City Hall to my high school sweetheart. We both received Christ the same day at the same moment 2 years later. I truly call that our wedding day. It was the day we desired to put our marriage in the hands of God and to use our marriage as a reflection of Christ and His Church. I wish we had the opportunity to have premarital counseling, but I am thankful that the Lord has given us ways to pour into our marriage, into others, and into each other. For us it is an ongoing sanctifying work that we are blessed to be a part of. His grace is abundant. So thankful for it. <3

    • Kristi, We are praying for you and your husband as well the folks you are ministering hope to there in Nevada. I would love to hear more about your ministry there if you could provide us a link! In referencing the testimony share time in the intro session of premarital counseling… It is one of my very favorite moments and can be such a springboard into the journey through the Word with the couple to be!

      • Thank You Pastor Michael! We sure love being prayed over! And, I’m grateful that you took time to spend with us sharing your wealth of knowledge in Biblical Counseling. I am soaking it all in, and will always keep this in mind when I’m reaching out to others.
        The link to our website is:
        but I believe that you can just click on my name if I’m not mistaken. I clicked on your name and it took me to your church website. Your church building is beautiful!

        I really love that you have a food pantry; this is something that my husband and I have been talking about doing in the near future. The food bank that we have been trading donations with has been really hit hard recently with the death of the pastor’s wife in Somoa, and donations to the food bank have been minimal.

        I also love your youth ministry!! It warms my heart to the highest degree when I see that our youth are reaching out to those who are suffering (the shut-ins); and real world visitors to the church to tell of the dangers of living in sin (drugs, pornography, and online predators). I have seen horrible results come from even the most dedicated Christian people, when they leave their first love.

        I have a couple of questions if you wouldn’t mind please?
        ~Do you have a schedule laid out that you follow all of the time or does it change with each couple/person that you counsel?
        ~Do you ever counsel just the husband alone, or just the wife alone; and if you do, do you have someone sit in when counseling the wife alone?
        ~How busy are you with premarital counseling, and counseling those who are already married and in need of counsel due to problems?
        ~Are most of those who you counsel members of your church? Or, do you have many that seek Godly counsel from outside of church?
        ~Do you have any outreach ministries that go into the public?
        ~What do you think about the book mentioned above by my fellow classmate Rick Shatos below, on The Five Love Languages, by Gary Chapman? What type of materials do you use?

        My husband and I have a rule that I counsel women and he counsels men; and when it is a couple, then we counsel together; however, our topic usually isn’t on marriage, it’s always about their separation from Christ and changing their mind about how they are living life. Because we are dealing with the homeless and the poor, we go to their location and love on them until they receive us as people who care about them as a person and their eternity. Sometimes it takes years to reach someone, and sometimes we reach them and it will be years until we see them again where they have gotten on their feet and doing really well; other times they have hidden from us and sought us out because there was just nobody else left in their life.

        The Lord is so faithful to bring back the people who weigh heavy on my heart; it seems that whenever I say a prayer for a person, the next week they attend our outreach. Whenever I don’t see someone for a while, like currently there is a 70 year old man named David who is homeless, and I haven’t seen him for about 3 weeks; I keep praying for him but I fear that he has passed away. The last time that we saw him there was a foot of snow and snowing, and about a dozen people were under our popups, him being one; these were the homeless of the homeless that do not stay at the shelter. None of them raised their hand when my husband asked if there was anyone who had not accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior, including David, but he was crying, so we said the salvation prayer as a group. Oh so many times this happens. It’s beautiful to see who the Lord brings each week; as little as a handful in the winter, to as many as 250 in the summer.

        Thank You Again!

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