Monday, September 21, 2009

What's Your Reputation?

Not personally but in your marriage.

What do people say and think about your view of life together as a married couple? In an article in Newsweek magazine they interviewed adult children of divorced parents and one person said this about his friends parents, "Most of my friends had divorced parents, and the ones that weren't should have been divorced."

What causes marriage to have such a bad rap? We do.

When we succumb to just surviving and putting up with each other we look alot like the world. Everybody is trying to put up with someone but it's usually with people we are not "stuck" with. Too often the reputation of marriage is that it has a great beginning and the rest of it is filled with regret.

It's hard to be excited about the institution of marriage when you see so many high profile people no sooner starting with great fanfare but ending all too quickly with bitterness and disillusionment. Add to that the reality of so many of our friends and relatives coming to the same conclusion.

It's almost contagious!

The world needs to see marriage as one of the most challenging yet rewarding crucibles of life. A place to work out the issues of life for the rest of your life. And particularly a place where the reality of the gospel of Jesus is increasingly visible. A place where the reputation of Jesus is more important than our own.

Isn't that a lot like our Christian lives? Too often we see life more in terms of survival than growth. To hang on with regret rather than to grow with confidence because of Christ. What reputation of the Christian life are we giving as well?

Paul's reputation and identity was that of one who was always striving and struggling. His desire was not to survive but to press on. "I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." Philippians 3:12.

May God make our marriages places of attraction with a reputation that others will desire for the honor of Christ.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Shock And Awe

Have you ever been completely caught off guard? Not for bad reasons but for a celebration.

This past weekend I played into the final hand of a surprise my family had been planning for two months - a 60th birthday party that was something I'm still processing! There were friends and family from every season of my life and even my mom who is now 88 years old!

My heart felt like it stopped when they all yelled SURPRISE! and I started visually taking in the people who had come. Family and friends from every season of my life were there. From high school to my years in Philly ... faces and stories that brought back a rush of memories and a heart filled with praise to God for his blessings.

Then there is my family.

In that "out of body" experience I found myself looking at my wife and children. There they were - the one constant throughout every season of life. Meg, Mat, and Erin. My children are now adults, married to spouses who love Jesus as well, growing in their own seasons of life. Each one has a special place in my heart. A place no one can replace and only God knows how much they mean to me and how grateful I am to Jesus for blessing me with each of them.

Then there is Bev.

The mother of my children. The woman in my life who holds a unique place in my heart. God only knows what I would be without her. We grew up in the same place, same schools, same friends and because of her - the same God. And we are both 60 years old! It doesn't get any better than that!!

Then there is Jesus.

He is the constant in my life that no one can replace. Even the precious gift of my wife and children. I have been blessed by them because they are a gift from him. Jesus was the ever present guest at my party and I couldn't help but see him as well.

The "shock and awe" of my party still lingers but so does this, "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." I John 4:10

Thank God for the blessings he sends and especially your spouse and family. Yet let those blessings lead you once again to the source of all blessings and be thankful!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Once in Awhile

"Once in awhile won't you try to give one little thought to me..."

Another song from my past that not only brings back memories but is a good reminder as well. The perpetual challenge to marriage in every season of life is to not give enough thought to our spouse.

Our lifestyles do not allow very much time to think.

Even taking time to read something like this blog too often means we have to give up something else. Our minds are preoccupied with our checklist of things we have to do before the day is done. The demands may be legitimate but don't allow much room to seriously consider other things or people. The economy, our children, community interests...too much to do, too little time to think! Even with our marriages we can go through an entire day without thinking about our spouse. If you do this too often you have a marriage that is more concerned about survival than growth.

If I'm honest, many of my marital frustrations come because I haven't taken the time to give one little thought to Bev. My interactions too often are reactions to her rather than proactively moving toward her in love and appreciation. What she is feeling is common in many ways to most marriages.

We take our partner for granted.

Their love, support and understanding will always be there so the temptation is to presume on that commitment and not appreciate it. I don't have to "think" about what her love means to me - just enjoy it!

The implications for us as Christians is pretty significant and especially in our marriage to Christ. We can go through a whole day of activity without ever thinking about the love and commitment of Jesus. We presume on his love and perhaps take it for granted. We then go throughout life reacting rather than appreciating. We become more concerned about surviving as Christians instead of growing.

Could it be that Jesus is saying to us the same thing this song implies, "Once in awhile won't you try to give one little thought to me...?" It's amazing how quickly you can renew your heart's love for the Lord by simply stopping and thinking about him. Why not take 2 minutes right now just to thank him for his steadfast love for you. And for the fact that he is ALWAYS thinking about you!