Monday, November 30, 2009

Don't Forget To Remember

Thanksgiving has come and gone. Did you remember to be thankful?

The holiday season has started and for many that means the pace of life picks up. More shopping, more phone calls, more cards to send, more cleaning and cooking than any other time of the year. And all at the same time!! This is definitely the season to remember our tasks list and all the important things we have to take care of in a few short weeks.

It's also a time to remember our blessings.

Do you remember when you first met your spouse? Do you recall some of those early conversations and how excited you got as you got to know each other? And that wedding day when you exchanged vows before God and those witnesses - the seriousness yet the excitement of sharing the rest of your lives together. Those are good memories. Whether you've been married 5 months or 50 years it's a good thing to remember.

One problem for many couples is that they forget to remember. We can all too easily get caught up in the needs of the day and seasons of life and forget what brought us together in the first place. Hopefully we have matured in life and there are probably some things we should forget but not the blessing of shared love and God's tender providence and blessing.

As professing Christians we serve a God who loves to remember. He never forgets His covenant to His children. Even when we forget Him he never forgets us and more than that because of Jesus - "He remembers our sins no more."

I think deep down inside of us we all want to be remembered. And that is especially true in our marriages. I don't want to be taken for granted or forgotten. I want to believe my husband or wife loves me and loves to remember me daily. Not empty sentiment but true gratitude.

This is the beauty of the gospel. Those who trust in Him will never be forgotten. No one understood this more quickly or clearly than the thief on the cross next to Jesus. His dying prayer was simply, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." To be remembered by Jesus is even more precious than the best of spouses.

Today as you remember and give thanks for the blessing of your husband or wife be even more thankful that God has remembered you.

"Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits." Psalm 103:2

Monday, November 23, 2009

I'm Sorry

"I'm sorry for everything I've done wrong."

That should cover it. I have used that over the years in my marriage to try and let Bev know I care about our relationship. That usually lasts about ten seconds! She looks at me with that convicting smile which let's me know she hears me but knows that's not okay.

I hate confrontation and I hate having my sin exposed. Whether great or small it just hurts and I'd rather avoid it. Added to that shame is that fact that I have personally offended someone, especially my wife. There is a specific sin that I have committed intentionally or unintentionally that I have to take responsibility for. I can't play the card of, "I'm sorry for everything I've done wrong."

Marriage is one of the most powerful contexts for my sanctification. The place where my sin is most clearly exposed and the place where forgiveness is most clearly appreciated. The more I hold onto that unconfessed sin (great or small) the more our relationship becomes one of survival rather than growth. I need her love and acceptance but I also need her forgiveness. When we are not right than life is not right.

That sounds alot like our marriage to Christ. Jesus has come not merely to give me love and acceptance but to grant me forgiveness. He has taken away the guilt and the shame. I am free. I don't need to hide nor pretend. Yet when I hold on to those sins things are not right.

When we are not right than life is not right.

The daily call of the gospel is to a life of continual confession and forgiveness. No secrets. No games. His unconditional love is always there not to pity but to restore.

I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord," and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Psalm 32:5

May our earthly marriages truly be a reflection of that heavenly marriage. A place where sins are confessed and forgiven. A place where you can truly be sorry and truly forgiven.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Trust Me

A growing marriage is a trusting marriage.

The vows we make at the beginning are statements that involve trust. That means I can rely on and have confidence in the fact you will take care of that which I'm giving you. We make vows to love, honor and cherish.

Those vows are exciting yet scary at the same time. Not only am I entrusting my life to someone but they are dong the same to me! What if we don't handle that trust well? We are trusting each other with many unknowns, like the future and our struggles in life. I'd like to believe we'll be able to handle every season of life by trusting each other but what if that trust is broken or challenged?

Here's a news flash: You can't be fully trusted!

We are sinners who at the end of the day are more concerned about our needs than others. We would never state that boldly but it really is our tendency. I can be better trusted when you take care of my needs first. That is not a statement to excuse our sin of selfishness but to keep the reality of the struggle on the table.

The beauty of a truly Christan marriage is that you are entrusting your life to a sinner who is even more concerned about trusting Jesus than just keeping you happy. If I have trusted Jesus with my life there will never be a time when I can't fully rely on him to keep his promise. His commitment to love, honor and cherish is pure and forever - he will never leave me nor forsake me. He has taken my broken promises and shame upon himself and given me his perfect obedience.

The call of the gospel in our marriages comes not from our spouse but from Jesus. It is that same call from beginning to end - "Trust Me." The chorus of the old gospel hymn calls us back to our first love,

Trust and obey for there's no other way
to be happy in Jesus
but to trust and obey.

Today, let's try and be as concerned, (if not more) about our trusting relationship with our Lord than even our spouse.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:5,6

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Are You Thinking?

That can feel like an innocent question.

It can also feel invasive.

I fear one of the greatest hindrances to marriage is not necessarily the blatant ones as much as the subtle ones. Like the fact that so many of us have our own "private" world in our minds by which we process life. We often feel this unspoken pressure to resolve things in our lives without involving others, even our spouses. We get use to having a separate world where we go to deal with life and then selectively reveal the process and results.

One of the greatest fears wives have is that their husbands are living in two worlds. They have their world at home with them but then this "other" world they know little about. It doesn't mean they are thinking the worse, i.e. pornography, or adultery - they just want to know what we've been thinking.

When a husband and wife get used to processing life on their own then it becomes a habit. That habit can create an unintended consequence of being more concerned about survival than growth. That partner in life becomes another burden to bear rather than one to bear burdens with. Too many of us get to the point that we feel alone in our marriage. We have our own private world to help us cope with the disappointments and seasons of life.

Not only as a married couple but especially as professing Christians we must live lives of integrity and honesty. We should be known not for our secrets but for our truthfulness. "Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another." Ephesians 2:25

So how do we alter this or prevent it from happening? Try asking this...

"What Are You Thinking?"

But don't stop there. As important as it might be to ask the question it's just as critical to answer it. We show our love and commitment by how we answer as well as how we ask.

Think about it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

A Good Reminder

On a recent plane trip I sat next to a guy I found out was a fellow believer in Christ. That's always refreshing and often convicting! We talked alot about the state of the church and the need to take Christ more seriously in our lives and especially in our marriages and familes.

He shared an incident in his family life when one of his children, who are now adults, made a statement about their dad. He was working a lucrative job that demanded he travel frequently. At a parent/teacher conference the teacher shared a response one of his children gave to the question, "How many people are in your family?" The child said five when the teacher knew there were a total of six. When the teacher followed up with the question of why the child said five the response was, "Dad is never home."

It was one of those piercing and convicting works of God's Spirit that would literally change his life. Within a month he had given his notice to the company to change positions. He needed to be home during the strategic season of his kids lives and was willing to sacrifice his own career success for his wife and children.

The point here is not to say if you travel for your work you are messing up your family!

This follower of Jesus knew he had made his career more important than his family. He wanted to make a different statement as a result.

Life really is short and we shouldn't loose the opportunities that God gives us to pass on to our children a legacy that is seen in our lives as well as our words. Jesus knew that what we do with our today's will have an effect on our tomorrows. There are so many daily distractions that take our eyes off the real issues of life.

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33

Our marriages are the first place our children look to understand what it means to to follow Jesus. May you be partners in life who share that common goal of the honor of Christ. An honor that is willing to say no to the things of the world for the sake of the gospel.

I just thought I would pass on a Good Reminder.