Friday, 10 May 2013

Borrowed Wisdom - Part I

Borrowed has a more pleasing connotation that “stolen from” or plagiarized.  Apparently the original source of the inspiration for this two part series may be Lisa Johnson of Proverbs 31 Ministries.  Just to be clear Lisa you are free to use anything I publish. Her “7 Days of Marriage Wisdom” prompted the following digressions:

Day 1 Be the Person

Be the person you’d like to be married to.  Be the person you pretended to be when you were dating.  Be the person you’d like your son and/or daughter to marry.  Be the person that God designed you to be.

Day 2 Nobody is Perfect

The original version was written specifically to wives since Lisa quoted Proverbs 31:11 which says in part “The heart of her husband trusts in her…”  In other words don’t let the world find out about your spouse’s imperfections via you.  This holds equally true for men. I suspect more than one affair has started by a man bad mouthing his wife in front of a female co-worker.  We are all sinners.  If we put half as much thought into how we can improve our marriages as we do thinking about difficult they have become we’d be way better off.

Day 3 Give the Best of You

Proverbs 3:9 tells us to honor the Lord with our wealth, with the first fruits of all our crops.  Other places in the Old Testament we are told that the followers of God were to sacrifice animals without blemish, i.e. spotless.   In other words give Him our best.  Why not do the same for our spouse.  Give him/her your best mood; your best thoughts; your best attitude; etc. “Don’t always bring them what’s left of you after the world has drained you.”

Day 4 Be Intentional

When you wake up each morning give some thought to how you might do something special for your spouse this very day.  Write a love note, make coffee, take him/her breakfast in bed, take out the trash without being reminded (hey this could be a big deal for some), open a car door, empty the dishwasher, buy her a rose, watch his sporting event and pretend to be interested, etc.

Andy Stanley tells us that one of the best ways to stay in love is to treat love as though it were a verb.  It is an action word – put feet to your love and see if it doesn’t make a difference.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Words of Wisdom

Van Walton
I found a posting from Van Walton of Proverbs 31 Ministries to be very powerful.  She recounted a time when she and her husband were at a wedding reception.  The couples were on the dance floor and the DJ broke in and asked those couples who had been married less than a year to leave the floor.  He proceeded to weed out the crowd in ten year increments.  By the time he reached forty years of marriage there were only three couples left, Van and her husband being one of them.  When asked about the secret of their success Van was quite candid in her response.  They, as a couple, struggled like most couples.  They had their share of conflict, disappointments, etc.  Then Van said the following:

“When I wanted to criticize my husband for offenses real and imagined, I read that love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:5).

When I felt lonely, I read that God was with me (Zephaniah 3:17).

When I thought I was right and my husband was wrong, I read that I shouldn't think too highly of myself (Romans 12:2-4).

When the daily grind of work, chores, errands drained me and my wild heart longed for more, I read that when I leaned on the Lord, through Him, I could get through anything (Philippians 4:13)”

 She found that in her moments of weakness she could be strong in Christ.  She determined that her best counselor was the Word of God.  Her life verse became

"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105 (NAS)

I found myself wanting to know whether her husband was also strong in his faith; whether he was a spiritual leader in the home; whether he was quick to seek the wisdom of God’s Word when he felt misunderstood, alone and tired.  But Van spoke only for Van, for obviously she realizes that she is responsible for how she responds to what life brings her way.  She cannot change her husband or control how he chooses to deal with life’s challenges.  She concluded her article with the following prayer:

“Father God, You alone are perfect. Help me to keep my eyes on You. I know that no one is an easy forever-partner. Remind me daily to curb my critical spirit. Teach me to see my husband through Your eyes. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.”




Monday, 6 May 2013

The Health of Your Marriage

I personally follow several blogs, in part to stimulate my thinking.  One such blog is a very practical but secular marriage blog.  A recent posting had the title “How Do You Determine the Health of Your Marriage?”  This is an excellent question.  The writer went on to identify several sub-categories, i.e. “I’m Happy so It Must Be Good”; “We’re Weathering the Good Times and the Bad”; “We Have Fun Together”; and “We’re Accomplishing Things Together”.  The author of the blog then went on to say, “It’s important to take a look at whether you determine the health of your marriage based on feelings or behaviors.”

Discernment check!  At first glance the criteria listed as determinants of a healthy marriage may seem reasonable.  Who wouldn’t want happiness, or to have fun together, or accomplishing things or successfully navigating the storms of life.  And that is exactly the point.  It is so easy to get caught up in what the “world” thinks that as Christians we can have a cognitive dissonance between our heart and our head.

There was no mention of the Creator of the Universe, the One who holds the patent on marriage and the One wrote the manual.  Isn’t it possible that He might have some thought on whether or not a marriage is healthy?  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that the criteria He laid for out for a healthy marriage in His Word just might be included in the list?

His list might include such things as:

·       Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

·       Wives submitting to their servant leader, protector, provider husbands.

·       Husbands loving their wives as much as Christ loves His bride the Church or loving his wife as much as he loves himself.

·       A wife respecting her husband.

·       A husband being “considerate” of his wife

One huge difference in the two lists is the focus.  In the case of the secular list the focus is on “me and we” but God’s list is focused on “your spouse and ultimately Him”.  God’s list is other-centered where the list developed by man is self-centered.

This Doesn't Work
Doesn’t God want us to be happy? – sure but He is more concerned about your holiness.  Is God not for a couple weathering the storms of life?  - Yes but He wants to be your anchor in the storm.  Doesn’t God want us to accomplish things together? – Yes He does, but to accomplish things for the Kingdom.  He wants us to enjoy one another without losing sight of the fact that marriage is for His glory not ours.