Friday, September 23, 2011

Who Are You?

What I do determines who I am. Whether it's an engineer, a teacher, a doctor, a painter, a carpenter or even a minister. We often find our identity primarily in our functions.

A secondary place we find our identity is in our relationships. A son or a daughter, a brother or sister, a husband or wife, a good friend and the list goes on. Where would we be if we didn't feel like we belonged to someone?

Yet in so many marriages today we limit our identity to our role and relationship with our husband or wife. We each need a special place of significance in our relationships. What happens when there is disappointment in one another? When a husband or wife does not live up to our expectations? There could be a silent war in the soul thinking I could be happier if he or she would only....

The constant battle in the Christian life is to look to something or someone else for my identity besides Jesus. That might seem like a "no brainer" to many of us professing followers of Jesus but I think the battle is deeper than we realize. It's not only deeper but it's daily. I am tempted every day to find myself in my world rather than in the gospel.

If it goes unchecked it will suck the life out of a marriage and even kill it. That's a pretty dramatic statement but I believe it's that serious. If you get in the habit of expecting your mate to meet your needs in a way that only Jesus can you will dry up and give up. Every day we are tempted to turn our eyes away from Christ. To find identity in what's in front of us rather than who has gone before us.

James, the earthly brother of Jesus, found his identity in Jesus not only as his brother but especially as his Lord. There was no earthly relationship that could compare. No one else was to be his life or Lord. James opened his letter with a bold statement of his identity. "James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ..." He could have listed his many functions and relationships, including his brother Jesus but he wanted the world to know the relationship that transcended every other one.

Jesus as LORD.

Husband or wife - Who Are You? May today and everyday be one in which the Spirit of Jesus reminds you of who you really are. And may that identity be seen not only in your marriage but in every arena of your life.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where Were You?

Where were you on September 11th 2001?

Virtually all of us can remember what has felt like our Pearl Harbor. To be attacked so violently and shockingly felt like the end of the world. Our "secure" country and world was now vulnerable and literally crumbling down beneath us. I was at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia glued to the TV watching in disbelief with several students who were from New York city. There were tears, prayers and a day long mourning of what we were seeing unfold before our very eyes.

I'll never forget where I was.

Significant events often produce significant memories. They don't always have to be tragic ones either- graduations, weddings, the birth of a child. The photographs in our minds quickly recapture the feelings of those days. And not only the feelings but especially the people we shared those moments with. Friendships and relational bonds become all the more precious as the years go by. As relational beings God has designed us to go through life together. To share those joys and sorrows together.

One of the many blessings of marriage is to have your partner in all of life's experiences. To know that in every season of life I have a God-ordained husband/wife to share the journey with. To know that we will be able to look back on those momentous events in life and not have to ask, "Where were you?" Instead to know that he or she was there all along.

One of the strongest themes of the Bible is God's constant reminder to never forget. The history of God's love to his people is filled with very significant events. Whether it's crossing the Red Sea or watching the walls of Jericho come down, the Lord wanted them to remember where they were and who they were with. Even Jesus himself would tell his disciples to take common and ordinary elements of bread and wine and tell them to remember him - to never forget.

Yet one of the tragedies and limitations of life is that we can't always be with each other during some of those life-changing events. No matter how hard we try we just can't be there and that can be very disappointing. Yet one of the richest benefits of our marriage to Christ is the guarantee that he will always be there. Even the best marriage can never give us what we ultimately need. A forgiving love that can never be lost or taken away.

Only the love of Jesus is both the means and the end. A marriage built on his foundation will produce a life of memories and a legacy of his faithfulness. Cherish the years you have together and the vows you have made but don't ever forget the greatest promise ever made by God to his people and fulfilled in the death and resurrection of his Son, "I will never leave you nor forsake you.' Hebrews 13:5