Friday, March 26, 2010

Words Have Meaning

There are a lot of words being thrown around in the market place today. Every word, no matter how seemingly insignificant, has meaning.

Two words: Healthcare Bill.

The issues are real and the concerns valid but listen to the words. We dare not gloss over our disagreements and learn to communicate those challenges. The language we use is the primary means by which we make those issues known.

But words have meaning.

I've been struck again by the place of words in marriage. Communication. How we say something is just as important as what we say. It requires forethought and self-examination. In a world that seems wholly given over to impulsive and impassioned verbal expression it's become harder and harder to listen. Also harder to learn.

If I saw a more direct and spiritual connection between my mouth and my heart, would that make any difference in my marriage? Jesus made that line clear when he declared, "For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks." (Matthew 12:34) Jesus chose his words carefully because each one had meaning. The way I use words with my wife conveys something about the message I'm trying to get across. The words in my home and marriage have to be seasoned with the grace and presence of Jesus. There are no idle words. No words without meaning.

That doesn't mean I am to be paranoid and frozen with fear about opening my mouth. Language was and is God's idea. It's a primary way to share ideas and emotions. As believers in Christ we should reflect to others the kind of communion we have with God. I think I could have an even better line of communication with my wife if I was more consistent with the Lord. Words of comfort and conviction that come from my lips to my spouse would be more second nature as a result of the Spirit of God dealing with my own heart.

This is not another call to "bite your tongue" and live a life of regret. Rather it's a call to use this precious gift of language to the glory of God. Think of how powerful our words could be if they were increasingly brought through the filter of the love of Christ. Not out of guilt but gratitude we would use our words wisely, "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Colossians 3:20

Thursday, March 18, 2010

To Love, Honor, and Cherish

The focus necessarily has to be on my husband or wife.

When we start out reciting those vows at the ceremony they are THE filter for which we are to view our relationship for the rest of our earthly life. I have promised to love, honor, and cherish my wife for the rest of my life. I declared before God and others that I would make her the focus of my affection. I would lift her up privately and publicly. I would hold her close to my heart as a precious gift that I would never want to loose.

These are not merely romantic ideas but exciting and critical commitments.

They seem easy to keep early on and even natural for awhile but what happens when "things change." It's amazing how quickly we seem to put a condition on that promise that at first was unconditional. The relationship got harder. My needs weren't being met. I felt like I was doing more "loving, honoring and cherishing" than my spouse.

It's easier to start out than to continue.

Isn't that similar to our Christian walk? We start out very excited about our commitment to Christ and His love to us. We have an "unconditional" commitment to him and his will in our lives. Then "things change." If we are honest we feel like the relationship with Christ has not turned out to be all we thought it would be. Yet the call is to love, honor and cherish him.

"Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."I Corinthians 13:7

I can do this only because of the unconditional love of Jesus. My love for my spouse must flow first from his love for me and not for what I am getting from my partner. As a Christian couple our love has to look different from the world. Our love is not based on ourselves but on God's love. Therefore, in Jesus I not only can keep my commitment but I can actually grow in that love. A love that looks more and more like Christ and his church.

May the world see Jesus today in your marriage by how you "love, honor, and cherish" one another.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thank You

I don't say that enough.

In a culture where we take so many things for granted we almost assume we are entitled to what we have. Little things like food or health, friendships and jobs. We are truly a blessed people and therefore, potentially an ungrateful people.

Which is worse, an insincere thank you or lack of thankfulness?

The famous theologian, John Calvin, wrote in the sixteenth century that the greatest problem he perceived among Christians was a lack of gratitude. Believers were taking for granted their salvation. They were too often living their lives without a conscious awareness of what Christ had done for them on the cross. They were presuming on the blessings that flowed from his sacrifice.

Not so much as a daily "Thank You". Why do we do that? The things that are right in front of us become all too oblivious.

Like our marriage.

My spouse is a gift from God primarily for my sanctification not my happiness. He or she is the chosen instrument God brought into existence and shaped to be used of him to bring out Christ in my life. No husband or wife can fully meet your needs. There is only one Messiah. He alone can give you what no one else can. Forgiveness. A forgiven soul is a free soul. A chosen one who is able to love freely and point others to Christ.

"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you...because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now." Philippians 1:3-5

Your spouse is primarily a partner in the gospel. Give thanks to God you are traveling together in this broken world with the effects of sin in and outside your home. Be thankful too that Christ is sufficient for all your needs. We too quickly and easily forget.

Stop even now and give thanks. "Thank you Lord" for ......... and may that gratitude be an increasing part of your daily life.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Time Out

"Time Out" is one of those phrases that applies to many situations. I remember as a kid using it to tell my buddies that I needed a break if we were playing a game. Later it was a welcomed announcement when a coach or referee declared a break in the action to gather ourselves or just catch our breath!

Or how about in child rearing when that little one needed to be forced to stop what they were doing and you told them they needed a "Time Out." It was a loving discipline to help your child calm down and practice self-control. You wanted them to think about what was going on. They were being controlled by life and their desires which lead to selfish outbursts.

Have you ever applied that to your marriage? "We need a Time Out!" How do you catch your breath? It doesn't have to be in the midst of an intense discussion or argument but you just might need a break from the daily demands of life.

And that doesn't always mean a break from each other!

A "Time Out" could be as simple as a ten minute coffee break or a date night. Just an opportunity to be together for the purpose of your relationship and not primarily to solve another problem. As husbands and wives we each have our own unique daily challenges but at the same time we are to be in life together. We might not have the luxury of a weekend away or a daily hour-long debriefing session but we do have the obligation to stay in touch.

As professing Christians we have the same dynamic in our relationship with Christ. The scriptures call us to have a consistent need for a "Time Out" with the Lord. We see that in the life of our Savior and all throughout the Bible.

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

We're all busy but the Lord is always available. To take a ten minute coffee break with Him could literally change our outlook on the day or our own life. Our spouse needs to know intuitively that we are in the habit of taking Time Out with Jesus.

May God give you "Time Out" with Him today and with each other.