Monday, February 22, 2010

Take A Look

"Search me, O God; and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!" Psalm 139:23,24

I want a clear conscience before my world, my wife - but especially my God.

The true priority of life is not intimacy with my spouse or integrity before the world but rather a heart that is clean and clear before God. If Jesus is not engaging my heart and consistently testing my thoughts I am setting myself up for a dangerous "independence." I can actually start processing my thoughts and actions without asking God to test my motives and exposing my heart.

It's a hard thing to be vulnerable enough before our spouse, to invite them to examine our hearts' motives but it's even more important to have that humility before the Lord. In our heart of hearts as believers in Jesus we want our lives to be a reflection of Him. That can only happen as we cry out to him to keep our hearts in check. To protect us from ourselves.

Your husband or wife is a direct gift of God to do just that. To be an instrument of His grace to affirm, convict and push you to the Lord. Your spouse cannot be ultimately responsible for your growth in Jesus but they must be a catalyst to drive you to Him.

What if followers of Christ who are married truly took this passage to heart? The implications are profound. There would be a growing obsession to honor Christ in thought, word and deed. Pride and defensiveness would be dismantled. A freedom to love with humility would lead to deeper intimacy as God designed. And the list goes on.

You can only fake integrity for so long. Who do you answer to?

We must be a people who are in the habit of asking God to honestly, "Take a Look." Because of Jesus I can have a clear conscience before God. Because of Jesus I can have a clear conscience before the world and my spouse.

May that be your life today. A spouse whose first love is the call of Christ in your heart that affects everything else in your life.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


There's all kinds of pains with all kinds of effects.

I love the sign in the Doctor's office that asks you to assign a level to the pain. They even have facial expressions to help you pick and choose!

Pain hurts whether it's physical or emotional. Pain can't be denied or ignored. It's always present. It's a reminder that something is wrong. Something is in need of repair or relief. A gnawing, haunting presence telling me that all is not well.

Not all pain is due to volitional sin. We live in a broken world. Disappointment and pain are lurking everywhere. We can't avoid it nor can we deny it. Things just happen that are beyond our control that bring hurt to our body or soul. These are all reminders that something is critically wrong with this world. It also points us to a hope for a world where there is no pain or sorrow.

There is pain in marriage.

It hurts to feel misunderstood or unappreciated. It's a pain to admit I was wrong. There is soreness in the soul when anger or bitterness takes hold. Some pains are deeper or longer lasting. Others just seem to hang on. Then there are those things outside our situation that bring discomfort, like the loss of a job, a sudden illness, a rebellious child. The pain just doesn't seem to go away. There is no quick fix or medicine to take. We have to live with it and through it.

There is no such thing as a painless marriage.

Yet for Christians who are married there is no such thing as a hopeless marriage. We share a common bond as believers to a Savior who left a painless world and took on our pain and punishment. More than that He took on the final enemy of pain and death. Therefore, as those who have trusted the finished work of Christ there is no pain too deep or unbearable that Jesus has not conquered. No effect of sin can separate us from his love.

What does that have to do with our marriages? We have to remind each other daily of the fact that our identify is not in our pains but in the presence of Jesus. We can't let our pains get in the way of Jesus but to bring Him into our pains.

Go read Romans 8.

"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good...." (8:28) or "If God is for us, who can be against us?...nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (8:31,39)

May God make you partners in this life who, because of Jesus, can rise above your pain and not run from it. May He bring you relief that brings eternal joy that actually makes you stronger in faith and life.