BETA

Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women

Archive for August, 2010

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

FIVE PRINCIPLES THAT TOOK OUR MARRIAGE FROM GOOD TO GREAT (Part 3 of 4)

4)  We learned how to mutually accept each other as uniquely designed by God:

During the first five years of our marriage, we tried to change each other into our image. Behind this drive lay (1) a basic discontentment with how God had made our spouse, and (2)  the invalid perception that we were not being adequately served by the other person.  In time, thankfully, God strongly impressed upon us such Scriptural passages as:

If anyone wants to follow in my footsteps, he must give up all right to himself, carry his cross every day and keep close behind meFor even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for manyGreater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  (Lk. 9:23 Phillips; Mk. 10:45; Jn. 15:13)

In studying Romans 12:3-8, I Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4:11-16, and I Peter 4:10, 11, we came to realize that God had uniquely gifted both us.  We came to the point of accepting, rather than trying to change each other. By Gods grace we learned that the other person was not necessarily wrong, just different. 

We became aware of the importance of dealing with our own issues, and allowing God to be the one to deal with those of our spouse: "Do not judge, or you too will be judged.  For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.  Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?  How can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye. (Matt. 7:1-5)

In seeking Gods help to accept and serve the other, we prayerfully internalized Scriptures like Ephesians 4:31, 32: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.  (See I Thes. 5:11; Heb. 3:13; 10:24 and I Pet. 1:22)

APPLICATION QUESTION: Are you truly accepting your spouse?  Or are you still trying to change him or her?  If so,why? One suggestion:  Identify the most critical aspect of your spouse that you do not accept.  Commit before the Lord to pray regularly for (1) a change in your attitude from one of a critical spirit to a spirit of love and acceptance, and (2) determine that if he or she is to be changed, it will be God who does it.  Not you.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

FIVE PRINCIPLES THAT TOOK OUR MARRIAGE FROM GOOD TO GREAT: (Part 2 of 4)

3)  We were committed to the same purpose and calling in life:

We understood the importance of Scripture like Amos 3:3: Can two walk together, unless they are agreed? From before we met, we shared a common passion and calling:  To participate with God in advancing his kingdom and bringing him glory. For us that meant (1) Evangelizing:  Winning the lost: [Jesus] said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.  (Mark 16:15), and (2) Discipleship: Helping followers of Christ reach spiritual maturity:  Go make disciples of all nations…  (Matt. 28:19)

We understood that marriage was not primarily about us, but about giving our lives to God in sacrificial service to others:  Jesus:  "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.  (Lk. 9:23, 24)

We understood that Ruths calling as my wife, and one flesh with me, was to partner with me (as Eve was called to do with Adam) in fulfilling Gods call upon my life.  The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of itThe LORD God said, It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable (adaptable, complimentary) for him (Gen. 2:15, 18) (See Gen. 2:20, 24; Eph. 5:23, 31)

We were clear on our biblical roles as husband and wife:

My role as Ruths husband was to

  Provide for the family: If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  (I Tim. 5:8)

  Provide leadership for Ruth:  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Eph. 5:22-24)

  Love Ruth:  Husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.  For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. (Eph 5:28, 29 NKJV)

Ruths role as my wife was to:

  Submit to me: Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.  For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything  (Eph. 5:22-24)

  Honor me: Let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly]. (Eph. 5:33b- Amp.)

 

  Make the home a primary focus:  The older women likewise [are to admonish] the young women [to be} homemakers (Tit. 2:3-5 selected)

 

 

APPLICATION QUESTION:  If you and your spouse are not on the same page, purpose-wise, what steps do you need to take to begin moving in the same direction? One suggestion: Set a time within the next 2, 3 weeks where you can discuss the question of a common purpose and calling in light of Scriptural imperatives, such as Matthew 28:18-20

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FIVE PRINCIPLES THAT TOOK OUR MARRIAGE FROM GOOD TO GREAT: (Part 1 of 4)

Yesterday I was talking on the phone with an old friend who knew me before I met my wife Ruth, and I was telling him that I am nutzoid over by her, after these 43 years of marriage.  Then I got to thinking, why is that so?  Here are five reasons:

 

1)  We built our marriage on a solid biblical foundation: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  (Matt. 7:24, 25) (See Pro. 24:3,4)

 

We made our time with God a daily top priority because we realized that without this vital connection with God we would not become the Christlike person our spouse would love through thick and thin.

 

We prayfully internalized marital precepts found in passages like Ephesians 5:21-33; I Peter 3:7-12, and I Corinthians 13:4-8.

APPLICATION QUESTION:  What action step(s) do you need to take to begin building a solid foundation of Gods word into your life?  One suggestion is to start carving out 10 minutes a day, the first thing in the morning. Prayerfully meditate on a small portion of Scripture.

2)  We determined that we would selflessly serve each other

 As followers of Christ, we recognized that we are called to emulate Christ in his humility by sacrificially serving others: Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.  (Mk. 10:43b-45)

  As Ruths husband, I sincerely sought to apply this important Scripture:  Husbandsbe considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers. (I Pet. 3:7)

  As my wife, Ruth, with Christs help came to embody I Peter 3:1-5:  You wives must accept the authority of your husbands, even those who refuse to accept the Good News. Your godly lives will speak to them better than any words. They will be won over by watching your pure, godly behavior. Don't be concerned about the outward beauty that depends on fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should be known for the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God. That is the way the holy women of old made themselves beautiful. They trusted God and accepted the authority of their husbands.  (NLT)

APPLICATION QUESTION: Husbands, if I were to ask your wife if she felt that you were a true servant to her, what would she say? One suggestion: For the next week make a conscious effort to lift the load around the house. Help with getting the kids to bed. Fill her car with gas.  Pick up your own mess, etc.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

THE WENT ALONG PRINCIPLE

As [Jesus] went along, he saw a man blind from birth (Jn.9:1). You remember the rest of the story of how Jesus wonderfully healed this man.

Jesus style of living and ministering was characterized by the fact that he went along or as some translations put it walked along.  What this suggests to me is that Jesus helped people in the natural flow of life.  Pondering this passage, I have to ask myself, Am I going along in my life?  That is, am I moving naturally at the pace of life so that I see peoples needs and naturally minister Christs love to them?  To be honest, at the pace I am living, I have to ask myself whether I really want to see their needs, much less deal with them. 

Not so with Jesus. It is interesting that you never see Jesus rushing to get somewhere.  He was already there. He simply went along in his life because he knew that the present moment, ordained by the Father, was the most important moment in the universe. And as he went along he naturally ministered to the needs of those around him.

I wonder why it is so difficult for us to grasp this idea of slowing down and living in the present at the speed of life. Living as life unfolds rather than slamming and jamming.  You know, Blackberry driven. Does it have something to do with our panic over survival?  Or our fear of failure? Or our angst over getting ahead?  Or our belief that we must beat out our competitors? Could it be that we simply do not believe that if we really went along and ministered, as did Jesus, God would somehow meet our needs?  Certainly Matthew 6:33 makes that promise.

Ill bet I know what you are thinking. Hey, Ive got to control my circumstances because its up to me to make it. Its up to me to provide for my family. Its up to me to keep the machine oiled and running.  Ill admit to myself, but certainly not anyone else that underneath my smooth exterior I am shackled by an unsettled fear. One way I quell the beast of anxiety is to race through life, controlling every eventuality that could crack the armor of my fragile security.  Its sad to admit it, but I have fallen into the trap of defining myself by what I do (Im an accountant) rather than by who I am (Im a child of God).  So this went along thing is way out of my league.

Yet the Scriptures instruct us to emulate Jesus:  Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Christ did. (1 Jn. 2:6 NLT)

What if, as a life style, you and I were to practice stealing away with Jesus often enough to tap into his heart and mind? Steal away enough to absorb his assurances that he truly is there with us, caring and providing for our needs;  calming our fears? Steal away enough to sense his heart and direction for us, appropriate his promises, and experience his inexpressible peace, joy and rest?  (Jn. 14:27; Eph. 2:14; Jn. 3:29; 15:11; 16:20-24; 17:13; Ps 37:7; 62:1, 5)

Perhaps, at that point we would be delivered from our fears (Psa. 34:4; Phil. 4:6, 7).  Perhaps then we would understand and truly learn to live out the vine-branch relationship of the natural flow of his life into ours, as we touched the lives us for him (Jn. 15: 1-16).  Perhaps then we would naturally live out his went along principle of life.