A Quick Thought to Share

“I do” are the two most famous last words

The beginning of the end

But to lose your life for another I’ve heard

Is a good place to begin

‘Cause the only way to find your life

Is to lay your own life down

And I believe it’s an easy price

For the life that we have found”

The Vows we promise, standing there that special day, are too often said with our thoughts only how they will meet our needs/wants/desires/expectations.

The “I do” is supposed to be about what “I do” for him (your now official spouse).  The question is: What will “I Do” for him? Not, what will “he do” for me.

Marriage really is about losing our life for the sake of another. It is now about the two of us as one, not the two of us individually.  It is a hard reality, a hard way to go in that we must lose our “rights”/our own way, which explains the divorce rates. Because it is impossible for us to overcome our flesh, but that is the Great News! Losing our flesh and living life for another is possible with God! Because God is the God of the Impossible!

“Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man

So there’s nothing left to fear
‘Cause he promised not to leave us

And his promises are true

So in the face of all this chaos, baby,

I can dance with you”

(Song/lyrics by: Andrew Peterson “Dancing in the Minefields”)

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Golden Nugget

“The Key question is this: Will we approach marriage from a God-centered view or a man-centered view?” 

For married couples or singles in preparation to be married…

I recommend:  Sacred Marriage, by Gary Thomas.

  • The basic world view of marriage is:  “We will maintain our marriage as long as our earthly comforts, desires, and expectations are met.”
  • But, in a God-centered view, we are to put our focus and effort into putting God first by preserving our marriage, keeping our vows, choosing to love our spouse over ourself.

Q and A

I was thinking of someone, and looking at a past event with them, and I asked myself the question: “What’s was wrong?”

Instantly, Holy Spirit answered very clearly: “The enemy will give you all kinds of answers to that question.”

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” Matthew 7:7

It’s so true! And how often do I do that? How often do you do that?  Look back and analyze an event…looking for what I said wrong, or might have done wrong, or what they said/did that was wrong. Am I the only who does this?   I had no idea I was seeking the enemies perspective by asking that question.

But God makes it clear that what we seek, we find! If I am looking for what is wrong the enemy will bombard me with all kinds of things to choose from.

So, it’s time to retrain my “lookers”, my “seekers” to find what is good, lovely, of good report, virtuous… what is of the Lord in that situation and in that person.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8

And isn’t it the  truth that the enemy is a liar? So, if he is showing us something, is it true? Maybe only a fraction of it… which is where he catches me in agreement. I see that fraction of truth and eagerly agree, “Yeah, that was wrong, I said that wrong, or did that wrong, or they did this or that wrong.” Without actually realizing who it is that is showing that to me.   Sound familiar?  I think this must happen a lot to all of us.  The enemy’s agenda is to kill, steal, and destroy us…and he is doing a pretty good job of it in the area of marriages/relationships.

So, I ask God, help me seek and find what is true, what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely and what is admirable in all situations and in all people. Please retrain my eyes, Father, to see what is of You. Please help me to keep seeking You’re prespective Father.

For the Love of a Goose

canada_goose     In a field off the exit near my office there is a Canada Goose. It has been waddling around and sleeping in one spot for over a week now. Why? It is watching over its dead mate. Only the feathery body remains, but the faithful spouse remains close.

I have been watching this as I go to and leave work. I’ve even prayed, wondering if there is something I’m supposed to be getting from this…it’s so sad.

Then today, in a quiet moment I opened my bible and was nudged to Proverbs where I saw this:  “Many a man claims to have unfailing love, but a faithful man who can find?” Prov.20:6

As they say: “Words are cheap.” Many people claim a lot of things, but are their actions proving their words to be true? “a faithful man” is the action the writer says will prove the claim of unfailing love.

Do our actions prove our words?

In the corporate body of Christ – are we standing by the people who are “dead in their sins”, who maybe offend us? Are we standing by our brothers an sisters in the Lord through whatever they might be going through?

In relationships – are we running away when we should be “standing close”? Do we remain faithful even when it’s the hardest it’s ever been?

In life – do our actions prove the many words we speak about Jesus? Do our actions prove our beliefs?

Paying attention to people’s actions reveals much. If you want to know if you can believe someone, look to their actions.

Picture:  www.allaboutbirds.org

Prison Diaries: What can you say with a Pine Cone?

In the time I’ve waited for Matthew (and to marry him), I’ve learned more about keeping wedding vows than when I was married previously. Obviously, being married previously means I’ve learned all this by trial and error, because waiting leaves much to be desired. It’s the worse in the “for better or worse”. It’s lonely and challenging to wait, and it supplies plenty of excuses to let go of the vows and move on.

Recently, one of the guys who attends services at the prison chapel shared with me that his wife was seeing another man. She told him she loved him and wanted to be there for him when he came home, but that she was just seeing this other man until then. (I could write a couple of pages of what is wrong with that thinking and it really makes me want too!)

In this specific case, you have a man who obviously didn’t keep his vows to end up in prison and you have a woman intentionally allowing another man into their marriage under the false illusion she can have both.

I believe it takes both husband and wife keeping their vows to make a marriage work. Vows are said by both during the ceremony, and they are to be lived out and upheld by both. I also believe forgetting the vows we spoke is the start to not keeping them. How can we keep something we don’t hold (know)?

This is the covenant we’ve agreed to. Have you just read the words in the vows to really grasp all they say?

Marriage Vows:

“Will you love and comfort her, honor and keep her, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, keep yourself only unto her as long as you both shall live?

To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live.”

Let’s break it down:

“Will you love” – Even the first three words are impossible for us without Jesus. There are all kinds of versions of love out there. There are all kinds of definitions of love. But how good are these other versions and definitions? The divorce rate seems to indicate they aren’t very good. 1 Corinthians 13 is the way of love and the way of life-long marriage.

Love, Comfort, Honor, and Keep: In sickness and in health

Comforting our spouse, in sickness and health; to sooth pains, to provide them a place of solace in our hearts and arms.

Honoring is to respect, it is to make our spouse distinctly different in our hearts and minds from anyone else, it is to grant them privileges with you others don’t have/aren’t supposed to have.

Forsaking all others: Keep yourself only to her, for as long as you both shall live.

To not look for someone else, to not flirt, to not desire anyone else in a sexual way…this involves the self-control the bible teaches us we are to have…casting down the thoughts right when they happen so that we aren’t thrown off course in this area.

To Have and To Hold: For better for worse; For richer for poorer; In sickness and in health.

To hold onto each other through the good and bad times. There will be both in this life and we are to be partners through it all. To have and hold is to not let go of our spouse in the storms of life. Storms, disagreements, rough times, bad times, and sicknesses happen, but they don’t mean your marriage is over. It doesn’t mean your vows can now be forgotten.

To Love and Cherish: As long as you both shall live.

Love is in the beginning and in the end of our vows. Love is the beginning and end of the Bible, and our life with God. Whatever we have in our life and marriage start with or without love – whatever we start with we may very well end up with.

I see keeping vows as coming down to (Galatians 6); by either living by the Spirit of God or by the Flesh. If we live by the Spirit: guided and lead to live according to biblical principles of putting Christ first, learning to really love, learning how to forgive, and being made whole – we will reap life (in our marriage). But if we live by the flesh: giving up on our spouses, unable to forgive them, being angry, letting resentments in, selfishly expecting marriage to be all about our self and only our own needs – we will reap death (in our marriage.).

In a message I heard on the marriage vows, a great idea was given: keep them ever before you.

Find ways to include them in your marriage: One example was that he spelled out part of the vows to his wife in small pine cones on the front stoop so as she came outside she’d see it.

My thought was to slip notes containing part of the vows inside his lunch. The point is to remind each other of the vows you agreed to and really live them out. Look for fun ways to intentionally practice living each of the parts of the vows, and be intentional to stick to it in the hard times.

Reversing the rate of divorce comes down to our intentions. Do we aim to lovingly live out our vows or do we aim to stick to self?

Wedding Vows

Prison Diaries – The Flesh is Weak

Ps. 119:82
“My eyes grow weary (looking) for what You have promised;”
 v.84 “How many days (must) Your servant (wait)?”

Life on the outside, waiting, has felt like I’ve spent more time in the fire than living, and I can tell you it is absolutely a God thing to wait this long. It’s not human.

I would love to tell you I was completely faithful and that I was spotless and blemish free to Matthew throughout these 27yrs of waiting, but that is not the way of the flesh…especially when the flesh is putting up a fight to remain, even in the fire.

Stubbornness, anger and resentments rise to the surface like dross. God will allow seasons to come which will bring all the ugliness in us to the surface, but He reveals to heal! Write that down! 🙂

I have faced lots of things I just didn’t want to do or even know how to do: Oil change for the lawn mower, car repairs/maintenance, clogged shower or sink drains, being stuck with both inside and outside chores, killing spiders, hearing mice in the attic, being alone during power outages, hauling/loading/and stacking 6 tons of pellets every year by myself… are just a few examples of things that I’d rather not deal with alone. “That’s the man’s job” playing in my mind would cause resentment to stir, the ideas of what’s the man’s chore and what’s the woman’s chores goes out the window, but not easily…all the chores are now mine.

Faithfulness and Commitments don’t seem to mean much these days, what with 43 hour marriages, people embrace their feelings rather than their commitments. For better or worse…do we even see that anymore?  

One thing I’ve learned along the way is that Faithfulness and Commitment are choices we make – not a feeling…it’s an intentional choice to choose the commitment over the desires of our bodies. Just because our body wants something, that doesn’t make it right for us or beneficial to us. There is no way we can be faithful or committed to someone if we are living to please our bodies.

According to scripture, none of us face temptations that are unique or beyond our ability to say no to – I used to think that was a bunch of bunk, because I felt no one could say that if they felt the strong desire I did. But it’s actually true. (A note: when the temptation is overpowering regularly and endlessly, it could be more than a temptation – it could be addiction.) But even regular temptation is so powerful the bible says we must flee it!

1. Fleeing temptation is to stop dwelling on it in our mind. It all starts in the mind! Taking thoughts captive is harder than it sounds, and requires a constant effort. It takes mental muscle to take your thoughts captive, to reject them when they pop up, and to cast them down to hell where they came from.

Don’t give up even though it seems you can’t or won’t ever be able to get a handle on your thoughts, because you will get there if you stay determined. And don’t be surprised if the mental battle gets worse when you start taking thoughts captive, the enemy doesn’t want to lose ground and will fight for your mind. Your mind is how he can steer you in the wrong direction. But you can take back the controls!

2. Flee from the people or things tempting you!! If you hang around with people who are tempting you to do things you shouldn’t, or are allowing yourself to be exposed to magazines, movies, etc…that tempt you, flee from all of that! Get away from the people and whatever is tempting you. Get it out of your life. Guard your life to preserve it. Live it unto the Lord.

My rules: I do not hang out socially with single people, I do not allow myself to be alone with the opposite sex married or not, I keep contact with them to a minimum and always share with Matthew any contact with men. Those are rules I have chosen to live by to keep me away from temptations. They might give you ideas. *I would also caution you on opposite sex friendships, they are risky – handle with prayer*

Faithfulness and Commitment also require Selflessness. A lot of my “self” has had to be burned up in waiting for Matthew. What I want, getting my way, my flesh ruling rather than the Spirit…lots of ugly stuff. I heard Pastor Libby Fannin say once in a message that sometimes a dream gets so hard to wait on you want it to die just so you don’t have to wait on it anymore. I understand, because I have felt that way. It could be a whole post by itself. 🙂

A little bit more of “self” dies when we don’t get our dream when we want it. And sometimes a marriage is more difficult than we want it to be, or imagined it would be. The dream we had of what it would be is stepped on by reality; the choice is: we pack up and give up, or we push self aside and work on it.

It’s all up to us! It’s all a choice we have to make and live with. Thanks be to Jesus for the forgiveness that is ours when we mess up and miss the mark, and thanks be to Jesus for the victory to win over the flesh!