Monday, October 26, 2009

Stress Relief

A gentle touch or back rub can bring amazing relief. When my muscles are tight then my mind and life feel tight. The world seems less stressful when my body feels more relaxed.

We each carry burdens in life that bring unique stresses that affect everything else in our lives. A hard day at the office, a nagging illness, an argument with my spouse, a bad mood, the demands of children, etc.

Where is my stress relief?!

In a real sense a first place of stress relief should be in our marriages. It should be a place where I can be stroked physically and emotionally. A place for someone to not only bear the burdens of life with me but to help me rest in the midst of them. To know my husband or wife wants to not only hear my cares but to identity with them can bring a unique stress relief to my soul.

That looks alot like the gospel. Isn't that why Jesus came? He has come to bring rest in the midst of this sinful and stressful world. The most critical stress relief he brought was to remove the guilt of our sin. "There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."He has not only identified with that stress but he has literally taken on the responsibility of that stress.


As professing Christians in marriage our primary task is to remind each other of the rest we have in Jesus. Not only to remind but to reflect that love. I want to love as I have been loved, to care as I have been cared for. Even the best husband or wife can only sooth my stress to a limited degree. I need Jesus.

I want to be lovingly pushed to Jesus. I want to run to the one who alone can bring the stress relief to my soul in the midst of this sinful world. I want to respond to his ever present invitation, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." Matthew 11:28,29

Today, as that husband or wife bring stress relief to your spouse. It can be that back rub or listening ear but whatever, bring Jesus to them. May God make your home a true oasis for rest and relief as you rest in him.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Have you Got a Minute?

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

How's this for an equation? The more I feel isolated and disconnected the more I need someone to listen to me before I can listen to them. The opposite therefore could be true, the more accepted I am the more I can listen.

Which comes first, being listened to or listening?

James is calling us as followers of Jesus to be first and foremost, good listeners. People who love to hear and understand. People who are known for a slowness in terms of speech and anger. People who legitimately care about the interests of others more than themselves.

The implication for our marriages is very powerful. What are we communicating to our spouses, verbally and non-verbally when it comes to listening? Are we approachable enough so when they say, "Have you got a minute" they don't have to be threatened by our response? Too often, to our shame, especially as husbands we can make our wives feel like they need royal permission to come into our presence and even then not guaranteed a listening ear. Of all the people to be listened to our God-ordained partners in life must know we WANT to hear from them. We cannot be what we are called to be without their involvement and they cannot be involved unless we are open and approachable.

I would suggest the deeper issue is our own marriage to Christ. I wonder how many times Jesus says to us, in essence, "Have you got a minute?" If we are not in the habit of listening to him through the Word and prayer why are we surprised when it becomes hard to listen to others? Jesus loved to listen and because of that people loved to talk to him. And then they wanted him to do the talking!

Your marriage is a powerful catalyst and witness to the work of Christ in your own home and the world around you. We are a people who cried out to God for forgiveness... and he listened. He then spoke words of hope and comfort that would forever change our lives.

Take a minute right now to stop and listen to the Lord.

Now go and listen to your spouse!

Monday, October 12, 2009


Everybody wants to be known.

Bev and I recently returned from a whirlwind tour of Southern California. I spoke at a church retreat and then we drove down the coast to San Diego. We stopped off for a while in Hollywood.

The Walk of the Stars, Hollywood Boulevard, Rodeo Drive, the studios, and all the time looking for someone famous. We all have that inner drive to be recognized and influential. Whether it's a reality T.V. show or a talent contest we want our 15 minutes of fame.

Everybody wants to be known.

Our culture seems to be obsessed with a desire to have a life outside the routine of our daily existence. "If more people know of me than the more significance and fulfillment I will have." There is nothing wrong with wanting to be appreciated but when that desire becomes an idol than the world and people around us become commodities.

I can't help but think that is part of our problem in marriages today. Schedules, kids, diapers, jobs and the demands of life are not as glamorous and recognized as those in the media. We can somehow feel cheated and envious. Life is hard and that surreal world of T.V. and movie screen can seduce us into believing there is a better life to be offered in this world.

"Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world - the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions - is not from the Father but is from the world." I John 2:15,16

The gospel is primarily about living in a broken world not utopia. Jesus has come to give what the world can never give. His death and resurrection have given us a recognition by the highest of all audiences. God himself has unashamedly adopted us as his children and one day the world will be envious. That should be enough to stop us from looking to the world but instead keep our eyes on Jesus.

But...everybody wants to be known.

May God help us this day in our marriages to walk humbly before God and our spouses and may Jesus be center stage for all the world to see.