Friday, 8 February 2013

A Firm Foundation

46-47 “Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.

48-49 “If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” Luke 6:46-49  The Message

Regardless of what Biblical translation you choose to use the bottom line is the same, i.e. you profess to be a Christian, you read the Word of God, and then live your life according to your own precepts.

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 1Corinthians 10:31 ESV

This tells me that my marriage should be conducted in a way that glorifies God.

15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. 2 Corinthians 2:15 ESV

This tells me that Christ died to compensate for my being so self-centered (and so are you).  News flash – that is why marriage is so difficult.  Two self-centered sinners come together with the expectation that the person they are going to marry will cater to their every whim.

IF I believe that each of the passages quoted is essentially God’s Word, it presents a quandary. There is no wiggle room.  God’s foundation words for marriage are to conduct ourselves as a married couple in a way that brings glory to God.  However self-centeredness will be at war within the members of my body. But because Christ died to sin on my behalf I have the help of the Holy Spirit to combat my sinful nature.

23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 ESV

IF I am the Christian I profess to be the way to a better marriage may be hard but it’s simple to understand.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Marriage 4.0

Many couples today say their vows with the intention of staying married but it is not a covenant relationship. That’s marriage 1.0.  Some couples stay together for the duration but with little joy.  That is marriage 2.0.  Still other couples work to have a marriage that the world would consider good. That is marriage 3.0. Some couples have strived to have a marriage that would glorify God, yet even those marriages may not be at what I would call 4.0, including my own.

So to begin with what would a marriage look like that glorifies God?  To begin with the husband would be a servant leader, protector and provider.  He would continually work at loving his wife as much as he loves himself (Ephesians 5:33).  He would spend time in the Word, be connected to some Godly men, and commit everything to prayer.  He would lead family devotions and pray each day with his wife. Because the husband is other centered there is rarely a time when the concept of submission is even entertained.  The wife respects and reveres her husband.  I prefer the Amplified Bible’s version which says “that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and ]that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly.”  As parents they attempt to instill Christian values and character traits in their children, recognizing their children are merely on loan from God.

Chisel rough edges
I’m sure I didn’t capture everything in my description but you get the idea.  Here is where 4.0 comes in.  God uses our spouse as part of our sanctification process.  Sometimes God might use an annoying habit, in which case I need to look at my heart and see why I’m annoyed.  In other cases my wife sees all my flaws, wrinkles and sins.  No one is in a better position to call my attention to such deficits, not that I am to be her self-improvement project but she is to be my friend, my guide, my confidant and partner in my spiritual journey.  She can point out a blind spot or chisel off a rough edge but do it in such a kind, loving and gentle way that I hear what she is telling me. (Proverbs 27:6) 

This level of honesty can do wonders for our spiritual growth.  It starts by giving one another permission to be lovingly honest.  It is accompanied by knowing that the sole purpose is to build us up into the image of Christ, not tear us down.  There is no hidden agenda, no manipulation or deception.

Monday, 4 February 2013

No Bad Days

34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34

I was intrigued by an article I read recently.  It started out by acknowledging that there will be difficult, challenging and laborious days.  That’s a fact, you can take it to the bank, beyond a shadow of a doubt no one will escape that reality.  The article then went on to contend that bad days can be banished forever.

The article then cited some fairly horrific experiences.  One cited parents who lost two of their three children in a freak train wreck.  Another cited a Christian counselor who had personally battled cancer five times only to see his twenty year old son killed in a hunting accident and his wife die two months later from cancer and a broken heart.  The parents and this husband have at least one thing in common, their undeniable, unquenchable conviction that God is good.

The main point of the article however was not to emphasize just how difficult life can be but to suggest that in the midst of life’s storms, i.e. situations that we can’t avoid, we still have a choice in how we respond. 

The book of James chapter one, verse two says, “Consider it pure joy, whenever you face trials of many kinds.”  You’re saying but James didn’t know my husband or he wasn’t married to my wife.  There is no question that even in the best of marriages there are difficulties. There are disagreements, issues with health, parenting challenges, financial struggles, etc.  James is telling us to use these “trials”, to be willing to let God teach us something as a result of them.  Matthew, chapter six, verse thirty-four assures us that we will have trouble in this life.

If things aren’t going according to plan are they our plans or God’s plans?  Did we consult Him?  When we are at odds with our spouse is it really because we are self centered and we want our own way?   Many of our trials are self-inflicted wounds.

Overriding all of our struggles is the fact that we have an all powerful, all knowing, all loving, ever present God who only wants what is ultimately best for us and our loved ones.  That is why we can choose joy in the midst of our challenges.