Friday, 24 January 2014

Psalm 139 verse 14

I will offer You my grateful heart, for I am Your unique creation, filled with wonder and awe.
    You have approached even the smallest details with excellence; Your works are wonderful;
I carry this knowledge deep within my soul
.  Psalm 139:14  The Voice

This Psalm was written by King David, a man after God’s own heart.  David had many remarkable qualities.  He trusted the Lord implicitly.  He was brave.  He was “usually” honorable, he was a good king who cared about his people, and he loved the Lord.  But we also know that David had some character flaws.  He may not have been the best father and he was an adulterer and a murderer.

 We are not unlike David in that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (NIV) as is your husband /wife.  We are the unique design of the Creator of the Universe, the one who provides our next breath, and controls all the galaxies and constellations.  He, of all people, is acutely aware of our strengths and our flaws.  In spite of our times of disobedience and unfaithfulness He remains committed to us.  He loves you dearly and He loves your spouse.

The point of this posting is to suggest that you take the time to list all the marvelous attributes that would describe your husband / wife.  And then thank the Lord for how He has made your partner.  Then if it won’t be too shocking to your mate, affirm him/her by sharing one of the items on the list, at least once a week.

Even if you have a marriage that puts a smile on God’s face, we tend to take one another for granted.  Do you see evidence that the fruit of the Spirit (faithfulness, goodness, gentleness, joy, kindness, love, peace, patience and self-control) is more a part of your loved ones demeanor?  First Corinthians 13 provides some admirable qualities such as not proud, not rude, not easily angered, not self-seeking, keeps no record of wrongs, etc. from which to choose.

Perhaps your spouse is gifted musically, or they are creative, they are a good provider, they are an excellent home maker, and/or loving parent, etc.

You may find an interesting phenomena, the more affirming you are the more affirming they are apt to become.  The more affirming you both are the more joy you will experience.  Celebrate the marvelous creation that is your husband/wife.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Wrong Tool

“You can’t fix a broken lawn mower with a waffle iron.  When it comes to fixing our spouse we are the wrong tool” Steven Arterburn The 7 Minute Marriage Solution

To say that I am not handy would be a gross understatement.  However I did pick up some wisdom that says “it always helps to have the right tools to make the job at hand easier.”  Now when you don’t know which end of a hammer to use the likelihood that you own many tools is slim and none.  Ergo even when I have tried to fix something invariably I was missing the right tool. 

So it is easy to see why the Arterburn quote struck me with such force.  One question that came to mind, among several, was “Why are we the wrong tool?”  Because isn’t an answer.  For one thing when criticism, even when politely disguised, is offered it drives a wedge in between the husband and wife.  It conveys, “I’m not satisfied with who you are.  And I think that I can improve upon some aspects of God’s design.”  While we would never utter those words that is how the person being “fixed” feels.

Not only does the attempt to fix our spouse it send the message that “you are not good enough” it indirectly says that the one doing the fixing is in some way superior.

At this point it would be perfectly fair for the few of you who may have read one of my other blogs to say, “Wait a minute, I know you have written that our spouse is an instrument in the Redeemer’s hand, i.e. God uses our husband/wife as part of His sanctification process.”  (Sanctification is the life long process during which a believer is growing to become more like Jesus). That would be true.

So let me try to wiggle out of what seems to be an obvious contradiction.  First of all there are aspects of our behavior that are part of our sin nature.  This is where the phrase, “speak the truth in love” comes in to play.  If as a spouse if I have anger issues, an addiction, a sarcastic wit that is hurtful to others, a self-righteous attitude, impatience, a critical spirit, etc., etc. there is no one in a better position to call my attention to such ungodly behavior than my spouse.  Hopefully she will pray about when and how to approach me and over the years, because she has displayed such a love for me, I willingly, though a little defensively, will listen to her.

God can also use our spouse’s irritating habits to force us to look at our own heart and thus bring about a change but that’s a topic for another blog.



Monday, 20 January 2014

Taking Our Eyes off Jesus

“…Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Matthew 14:29-30

The closest I come to the Apostle Peter is when I take my eyes off of Jesus and begin to sink.  I don’t sink in the water, I sink emotionally.  I find at times I can get easily discouraged.  My eyes are obviously focused on me and my surroundings.  They are focused on other people and their response to me.  They are focused on the situation in which I find myself, everywhere but on Jesus.

It gets worse, for on an intellectual level I believe that not only is God in total control of everything but He is invested in every moment of my life.  There is nothing that befalls me that he could not alter. So I must ask myself, “Self, why are you disappointed, why are you moping around, why are you so disgruntled…”  Well you get the picture.  I should be asking myself what it is that God wants me to learn in the situation in which I find myself.

“Do not be anxious about anything…” (Philippians 4:6). Now I don’t profess to be a linguistics expert but first of all this phrase from Philippians sounds like a command, not a suggestion.  Secondly the word “anything” would appear to be all encompassing.   I should be anxious about nothing, zero, zilch, “nada”.

Peter was able to do the impossible as long as he focused on Jesus and even as he began to sink he knew that it was only Jesus who could save him.  Peter knew instinctively that he need only ask for help and it would be forthcoming.

Jesus always seemed to use “teachable moments”.  Perhaps this is one that I should take to heart.  The next time I’m feeling down in the dumps or melancholy I best turn to the Lord.  The next time I am beginning to get discouraged or someone disappoints me I best ask the Lord what it is He is trying to teach me.
Jesus wasn’t about to let Peter sink and He is not about to let me sink.  Just as He wanted Peter to walk by faith, He wants me to do the same, though I’m not about to try walking on water, I have enough trouble on land