Friday, 20 January 2012

The Bottom Line

We have done only that which we ought to have done.
Luke 17:10

I recently heard Mark Driscoll, pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, say that he read 187 books on marriage before he and his wife began to write their book entitled Real Marriage which hit the book stores a few days ago. By all the hype it promises to go into unchartered waters. In addition Tim Keller’s recently released book, The Meaning of Marriage appears to be a must read for those considering marriage and for those looking to make their marriage better.

But I will say that the following offering from Dennis and Barbara Rainey of FamilyLife Today is as succinct and on target as anything you will find on marriage.

When you think about the great humanitarian efforts achieved by the advance of Christianity over the years, you possibly think of hospitals and rescue missions and hunger relief. But perhaps the power of Christianity is proven best every day in homes and families and marriages like yours--when people who are self-centered by nature put their spouse's needs before their own. It's something He only accomplishes in us when we do the following:

1. Put Christ first in all things. When Barbara and I signed the "Title Deed" of our lives over to Christ as a young married couple, we officially gave Him everything that was ours--all rights to our lives, dreams and possessions. Have we ever failed to remember the One who really owns our hopes, dreams and possessions? Sure. But whenever we've been tempted to live for ourselves, we've always been able to look each other in the eye and remember a time when we submitted everything of ours into His keeping and signed that title deed.

2. Give up all rights and entitlements. Paul said, "For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all" (1 Corinthians 9:19). Not a slave to some, but to all. And just as a slave relinquishes all rights to personal time and desires, we as Christ's followers are commanded to put others above ourselves. It's the only way to be the kind of wife or husband God intends us to be.

3. Be selfless in the little things. Sometimes I don't want to get out of my favorite chair to help Barbara carry in the groceries, sweep the kitchen or clean a toilet bowl. But it's in these minor, everyday moments that we teach our selfish selves who is boss. This is part of what the Bible means when it tells us to "learn to do good" (Isaiah 1:17)--to constantly choose death to self, to always choose sacrificial love until it becomes our first response.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Need by Example

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.Ecclesiastes 4:9

Dennis Rainey shared the following thoughts in his recent blog “Moments for You”.
“(There are) three little words that aren't always so easy to say: "I need you." But sometimes, all it takes to get those words flowing again is just a reminder of how many ways you truly do depend upon each other.

You need your spouse for:

• Honesty - Who else knows you so well and can give you such an honest perspective on things when you need it most?
• Variety - How black-and-white and one-dimensional would your life be without someone to add color and texture to it?
• Encouragement - Who still believes in you when others don't - including yourself? Who helps you remember your uniqueness and significance?
• Togetherness - Who else can multiply your joys, divide your sorrows and add to your experience with God by sharing it together?
• Counterbalance - When you’re going too fast, who helps you put on the brakes? When you’re afraid to take a risk, who encourages you to go for it?
• Understanding - When you don't want to talk, who can draw you out? Who else can force you to be real and authentic with your emotions?
• Parenting - How could you raise your children without someone to temper your weaknesses, complement your blind spots and help reinforce your positions?
• Romance - Who else can share your most intimate secrets, see you at your most vulnerable, yet allow you to express yourself without shame, with pure joy in return?
• Companionship - Who is the difference between doing things single-handedly and doing them together, as a couple?

You really do need each other. And God knew what He was doing when He gave you to one another.

This last sentence is worth repeating, “God knew what He was doing when He gave you to one another.” What a great way to start the New Year by focusing on why you and your spouse need one another.