Friday, 30 November 2012

There Are No Ordinary Moments in Marriage

7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.  1John 4:7-12  ESV

In chapter one of Marriage Matters Winston Smith makes two key points.

1.    We are prone to handle the ordinary moments of marriage on our own as if God were uninterested in the things that trouble us.

A quick glance at 1John 4:7-12 should dispel any notion that God is disinterested in anything that happens to one of His children.  Matthew 10:39 says “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.”  Does that sound like a God that is disinterested in you.  We are told in Acts 17:28 that “…in him we live and move and have our being.”  Every breath of every day comes from Him.  Hopefully you are convinced that it is not God who decides to abdicate the mundane, monotonous and the messy.  We choose to exclude Him.

2.    God is love, and when we find it hard to love, we need Him all the more. A lack of love means we should not just look more closely at our marriage, but at ourselves and God.  If we have any hope of having more love in our marriage, it’s going to mean having more of God in our marriage.

 Oooouch!  The implication here is that if we are not “feeling” particularly loving we best look at our relationship with God.  If God is love and God is living in us then His love should be flowing through us.

Don’t you just hate it when these Christian authors begin to get up close and personal?  The good news is that God does care about your marriage.  He does love you and He very much wants to help.  Invite Him in to the ordinary moments of your marriage.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Ball Field to Bedroom to Billfold

My accountability group is reading The True Measure of a Man.  Chapter five describes how many of us guys attempt to prove our masculinity based on erroneous assumptions. Joe Erhmann, a former football coach, identified the cultural progression of false masculinity with the expression “from ball field to bedroom to billfold.”  This may be a little crass to some of you but I think he makes a valid, if not sad, observation.  Many guys begin to evaluate their maleness based on their athletic prowess.  For the boys who are always picked last (or not at all) they begin to feel less than, whereas the fastest boys with the best arms, etc. are looked up to.  The next test of masculinity comes after puberty.  Which guys date the cutest most popular girls?  The young man who had no one to take to the prom doesn’t feel very good about himself.  The last measurement tends to be financial success and all the “toys” it brings.  It is a cycle of competing and comparing ourselves with all men in our sphere of influence.  What is totally absent is any mention of God.  I am assuming that woman probably have their own cultural markers which most likely exclude God as well.

These “trophies” we collect, or fail to collect, do not give meaning and purpose to our lives. Romans 8:29 “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” seems to offer an alternative standard, one with eternal rewards.  According to Scripture the essence of what it means to be an authentic man is made up of character, wisdom and the ability to love.

So what does all this have to do with marriage?  If as a husband I am striving to be more Christlike I think it has a lot to do with marriage.  My wife will not have a hard time submitting to me because she senses that I love her as much as I love myself.  In addition to being other centered, I will exhibit character qualities that reflect the impact of Chris on my life. I will show a concern for people that brings glory to God.  By seeking wisdom I will tend to make better decisions and choices for my family, my church and my employer.

Bottom line, God could care less whether or not you or I can throw a football 70 yards. God is not impressed if you or I dated and married the most popular girl in our high school.  The amount of possessions we may have amassed do not compare with the riches that await us.  

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Happiest Day of Your Life

Deepak Reju
In his blog entitled “10 Ways that Satan Loves to Watch Marriages Fall Apart”, Deepak Reju makes the following statements:

Marriage can be extremely messy. As sinners we can do dumb things in marriage—we hurt one another; we make false assumptions and then miscommunicate; we manipulate or say mean things to our spouse; we think less about serving and more about being served. We don’t always follow God’s Word or advice from godly leaders. We put our hopes in the world or each other more than we put hope in God.
We don’t need Satan to ruin our marriage. We do plenty of unhelpful things on our own to ruin our marriages. I’m sure Satan enjoys having a front row seat, watching our folly and foolishness.

In addition to the destructive messages that we send to one another Satan uses our culture in devious and subtle ways to reinforce our negative feelings.  For example a comment during a TV program appeared to be an innocent enough when the speaker said “Her wedding day” referring to the bride, “should have been the happiest day of her life.”  Perhaps that explains why the average wedding costs over $30,000 but I digress.  IF the wedding day is the happiest day of a couple’s life together it would mean from that point on it is all downhill.  Certainly your wedding day should be one of the happiest days of your life with many more to follow. 
As I reviewed Deepak’s list of ten behaviors that adversely affect marriage there were no surprises.  Self-centeredness headed the list.  Unfulfilled expectations, a lack of intimacy and filling the void in our life with work, kids, social media, etc. head the list of ways Satan attacks marriages.
Unemployment line
1 Peter 5:8 says that Satan prowls around like a lion looking for someone to devour.  We in America have certainly made Satan’s job simple. At the pace we are going Satan will need to collect unemployment.
The happiest day of your life should be the day Jesus became your Lord and Savior.  Much of life is a series of choices.  Your happiness depends more on making choices that glorify God than making choices that satisfy your desires.  A husband who attempts to love his wife as much as he loves himself will have a most happy wife.   A wife who respects and reverences, notices, regards, honors, prefers, venerates, esteems, defers to,  praises, loves and admires him exceedingly will have a very happy husband. (Ephesians 5:33 Amplified Bible)