Tuesday, December 30, 2008


A new year is about to come while we say goodbye to another. What was this past year for you? What memories will you carry over to the new year? Some things we'd like to forget but other memories we don't ever want to loose. Like a loved one we lost or a blessing we gained.

Mark those memories and use them for God's glory.

We moved from Philadelphia to North Carolina. Our hearts and minds are filled with rich memories of our years "back home." Nothing can take them away but we miss the people and shared experiences of life. Though the move was hard it was also a reminder to us of God's faithfulness to us in every season of life.

We are making new memories with Jesus who is the same, "yesterday, today and forever." Marriage is learning to lean on each other and at the same time reminding each other that the Lord is who holds us together.

Change is often difficult and can bring unique strains on any marriage but the focus must be on that which never changes. What made our years good in Philadelphia was not just the people and the familiar surroundings but the fact that the Lord was with us and blessing us. Seeing God work in His church and through His people will be eternal memories for us.

That season of life will hold a special place in our "memory album" but we look forward to the new memories He will bring in this new season.

Happy New Year!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Is Anybody Listening?

In a culture of noise and soundbites it seems like everybody has something to say. We all want to get a word in or give our opinion to influence a situation or person. In one sense it is good to see people engaging issues in our culture and be willing to speak up yet I fear at times the goal is to get the last word.

I wonder, have we lost the quiet art of listening? This is evident in many contexts but we are especially susceptible to it in our marriages. When I feel misunderstood by my wife I seem to try harder to make sure she understands. I do that by speaking more and listening less. "If she would only stop talking I could explain everything!"

LISTEN: "Know this, my beloved brothers; let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger." (James 1:19)

It's amazing how much anger can be subsided by the absence of words. If your husband or wife knew you truly wanted to hear and understand what difference would that make? The anger and anxiety builds up when I know that after finishing my two sentences there will be two or three paragraphs in response!

Go and read how well Jesus listened and as a result how his words made an eternal difference. (i.e. the Samaritan woman in John 4)

I would suggest the next time you have a misunderstanding with your spouse, instead of getting the last word you take the lead to listen. Tell him or her that you promise you want to hear their concerns and that you will not respond for at least 10 minutes. This will give both of you the chance to prayerfully reflect on the situation and then respond with fewer words perhaps more graciously seasoned.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What's The Problem?

It's amazing how similar the issues of marriage and our own Christian life can be. We strive for consistency in our walk with Jesus but often find ourselves inconsistent and discouraged. In the same way we want to have harmony in our homes yet seem to get easily frustrated and confused.

The Apostle Peter addresses some of this in his second letter when he declares that the problem for many of us professing Christians is not so much a lack of effort as our own "spiritual amnesia." In verse 9 of chapter 1 he says, "Whoever lacks these qualities (vs.5-8) is so nearsighted that he is is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins." In other words we are too concerned or obsessed with what is in front of us. We have lost sight of the cross.

That's not a mild bump in the road. If we fail to remember and see what Jesus has done we default to what we must do. That leads to fatigue and frustration. Jesus has done it all and paid it all.

The solution is not simply to "let go and let God" but to hold fast to the cross and the promises He has given us. If our desire is to live a life of gratitude for His precious gift we will seek first His honor and the welfare of others.

Think what that would do to our daily walk and especially our marriages!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Practice What You Preach!

It's amazing what a word of thanks and encouragement can do to a marriage. One of the great themes I often hear regarding couples is the fear of being taken for granted. We can get used to each other to point of presuming on one another. We vow to "love, honor and cherish" one another but do we subtly allow that to become an expectation rather than a privilege?

The bible talks clearly about the importance of biblical encouragement among believers. Giving thanks for that brother or sister in Christ can be a true blessing. The lack thereof can bring discouragement.

To truly encourage your husband or wife requires that you think about them, you pray for them and you more naturally care for them. The Apostle Paul, that great giant of the faith, found great courage in Jesus when he thought about his companions in the faith. "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you...God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus." (Philippians 1) There was great power in knowing what they had in common - something bigger than themselves.

We as professing Christian couples have a blessed and profound responsibility to encourage each other in faith in Jesus. Let us practice what we preach and may it most powerfully be seen in our marriages!!

Monday, November 17, 2008

We Need Peer Pressure!

Sometimes it's the indirect or informal things that have the most lasting effect. How many times have you been impacted by someone simply by watching how they lived and responded to life?

This is true in all of life but it can be particularly significant in marriage. We as Christian couples need all the help and encouragement we can get. Often that can come simply by being around others who are endeavoring to take Jesus more seriously in their lives.

We tend to become like the people we hang out with. We need the peer pressure of those among us who are sincerely and humbly trying to work out the gospel in their marriages. I find it refreshing and convicting to be in the presence of another couple who are honestly struggling to honor Christ in their lives and home. I go away with a renewed desire to love my wife more and be what God has called me to be in her life. That doesn't always come through formal instruction but healthy peer pressure!

My in laws, Tom and Ada Brown were married 56 years and are now home with the Lord. They will never fully know just how much they influenced me as to what it means to be a husband and father. They were a perpetual object lesson to me. I praise God that I was "pressured" by a couple who simply and faithfully loved their God and each other to the end.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

One Thing at a Time

Marriage issues can build up like a basket of dirty laundry. We often get to the point where the only way we know how to deal with things is to bring EVERYTHING out of the basket and say, "now, what are you going to do about it?!"

There is nothing wrong with putting things on the table and sorting through them but you still have to pick them up one at a time! Life and relationships, especially marriage can feel like we do more accumulating things than dealing with them. Our pace of life and the intensity of demands upon us make us very susceptible to building up our mess rather than consistently dealing with things.

There is no quick fix or magic but there is a very practical and biblical way to approach the mess. "Be still and know that I am God." Let's not gloss over that. So much of our lives are lived in reacting to other things rather than resting in one thing. That one thing is the promises of God. Before we deal with our spouse we need to first deal with the Lord.

When we are consistantly mindful of the Lord and His call on ours lives the odds are we will more consistanly reflect Him in how we respond to the mess on the table -
one thing at a time.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Social Dilemma?

In the April, 2008 issue of Newsweek magazine a featured article on divorce quotes the experiences of couples from the 70's who went through divorce. One observation came from the author of the article, "My 44 year old classmates and I have watched divorce morph from something shocking, even shameful, into a routine fact of American life."

We agree that life doesn't always work out the way we want but have we lowered our expectations to meet our demands? This is not to make light of the painful reality of sin and brokenness in this most intimate of God-ordained relationships but why has it become so common?

I would suggest that part of the problem has been a less than biblical view of marriage even among professing Christians. If marriage is primarily a social institution established for our happiness and fulfillment then it will be doomed to disillusionment or divorce. What if marriage were more about holiness than happiness as one Christian author asks his readers.

To accept the current status of marriage as "just the way life is" is to have a less than biblical view of what Christ calls us to as His followers.

Let's think about how this God-ordained context of marriage could be a powerful tool to help the unbelieving world see the good news of Jesus' love worked out.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Just a Thought

In a culture of brokenness and disillusionment we as Christians need a continual reminder of the promises of Christ not simply to get over things but to grow through them. This is never more evident nor more critical than in working out the gospel in our marriages. They have been under attack and are one of the most strategic arenas for the evil one to make a mockery of the claims of Christ.

Our culture in general and the Christian church in particular are always looking for that key to finally address and help us have good relationships. Yet all too often they are fading efforts that further discourage and make us feel even more hopeless at times.

I have no new answers but only a renewed desire for those of us who claim Christ and are married to look again not to methodology for marriage relationships but first to the call of Christ on our lives. Our marriages are to be a metaphor of Christ's love and therefore a call to the holiness of Christ more than our own happiness.

For example, what is the application of the gospel to our marriages from II Peter 1:3 when he declares, "His divine power has granted us all things that pertain to life and godliness..."? How would that effect how we deal with each other if we truly believed this promise?