BETA

Facts of the Matter

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

Archive for September, 2010

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

WHY OUR MARRIAGE REALLY WORKS AFTER THESE 43 YEARS! (Part 2 of 4)

 

In last weeks Facts, We learned how to mutually accept each other as uniquely designed by God.

2)  We have been  committed to the same purpose and calling in lifeCan two walk together, unless they are agreed?  (Amos 3:3)

From before we met, we shared a common passion of advancing the Kingdom and Glory of God by winning the lost and discipling the saved:  [Jesus] said to them, Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation… Go and make disciples of all nations(Mk. 16:15b; Matt 28:18b)

We understood that:

Marriage was not primarily about us, but about giving our lives to God in sacrificial service:  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)

Ruth was to help me fulfill Gods call on my life. Observe this principle from Gods dealing with Adam and EveThen God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the groundBe fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the groundThe 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. 1:26, 28b; 2:15, 18)

To fulfill our calling we clearly understood our biblical roles as husband and wife:

As Ruth husband

–  I am 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)

–  I am to furnish Ruth leadership:  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)

–  I am to selflessly love her:  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)

As my wife, Ruth is 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 her primary focus at home: The older women likewise [are to admonish] the young women [to be} homemakers  (Tit. 2:3-5 selected)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

WHY OUR MARRIAGE REALLY WORKS AFTER THESE 43 YEARS! (Part 1 of 4)

 

Recently I was asked to speak on why I am still nutzoid over Ruth, my wife of 43 years.  Here are five reasons:

1)  We learned how to mutually accept each other as uniquely designed by God:  During the first five years of our marriage, we both tried to change each other into our image.  Behind that drive lay the invalid perception that we were not being served, and that our rights were being violated.  God revealed to us that:

–  Marriage is not about us, but about sacrificially serving the other person: 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; Mark 10:45; Jn. 15:13)

–  Individual differences in  two people do not necessarily mean that one right and the other is wrong. Tim LaHayes book, The Spirit Controlled Temperaments taught us that often its not wrong; just different.

–  Prayer must play a central role, as we look to God, rather than ourselves to make the changes in our spouse.

–  Example is a powerful agent that affects change: People will learn at the school of example, and they will learn at none other.  (Edmund Burke) We learned that we needed to model the qualities we wanted to see developed our spouse.

–  We need to deal with our own issues, and allow God to deal with issues in 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)

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 find difficult to accept. Commit before the Lord to pray regularly (1) for a change in attitude from one of a critical spirit toward one of love, and (2) determine that if he or she is to be changed, it will be God who does it. Not you.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

THREE TYPES OF FAITH

The familiar narrative of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead reveals three types of faith in the people surrounding that story.  And guess what? They are us! Jesus was in Jerusalem when word came that his friend Lazarus in Bethany was ill. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, Lord, the one you love is sick. When he heard this, Jesus said, This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God's glory so that God's Son may be glorified through it. When he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days. (Jn. 11:3-6) In the mean time Lazarus dies. As the story unfolds, three types of faith are revealed. Which one is you?

1)  A manipulative faith is the kind of faith that believes God exists primarily to serve my needs.  This being true, I have little, if any concept that God may be operating on a larger stage than mine, or that I am an integral part of his grand design. Mary and Martha demonstrate this type of myopic faith in expecting Jesus to meet their needs, on their terms, and on their time table.  Said they to Jesus, If you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21, 32)

QUESTION:  When God appears not to meet your immediate needs, do you grouse about it, or choose to rest in the fact that he is working his will behind the scenes for a greater good, and for his glory?

2)  A detached faith is faith that intellectually knows the facts about Jesus to be true, but refuses to allow that truth to penetrate to the core of my being that matriculates into a commitment to faith in his lordship. This story illustrates detached faith in two ways:

  Some Jews, the Pharisees, and the chief priest knew, stone cold, that Jesus performed miracles, and that his miracles validated his claim to be the Son of man, the Messiah. Yet the Pharisees and chief priests fear of loosing power and control was so over-powering that they were willing to commit murder to stop Jesus rather than repent and surrender to him:

Some [Jews] who saw [Jesus raise Lazarus], went to the Pharisees and told them what Jesus had done. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin. What are we accomplishing? they asked. Here is this man performing many miraculous signs. If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and then the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation." (Jn. 11:46 – 48)

  Caiaphas, the high priest spoke up (in the Sanhedrin), You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish. He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one. (Jn. 11:49b-53)

Here is this amazing prophesy by Caiaphas, concerning Jesus.  Yet there is no evidence that he personally confessed Christ as Lord.  As part of the powerful established leadership, he apparently remained in league with these future killers.

QUESTION:  Could it be that you know Christ is exactly whom he claims to be, but are unwilling to surrender to his Lordship?

3)  A genuine conversion-based faith is childlike in its embrace of Jesus as Lord and Savior:  Many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him. (Jn. 11:45)  (See Matt. 18:2-6)

QUESTION:  Have you chosen to put your faith in Jesus Christ, surrendering to his lordship not only for salvation but for daily living?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

TO WHOM AM I REALLY LOOKING TO MEET MY NEEDS?

While working my way through Psalm 16 the other morning, I jotted down a number of questions kind of a self-evaluation based on the content of this marvelous Psalm. Join with me in asking a few pertinent questions:

 

Who really is my master?  My emotions?  My circumstances? My lusts?  My fears? What others think of me?

Or God? I said to the Lord, You are my Master  (Vs. 2) Lord, at this moment I surrender up to you the incessant noise and confusion of the world that would crowd in upon my inner sanctum.  Today, I choose to make you the Supreme Master of my every thought and desire. Amen.  (See Psa. 31:14; 91:2; Isa 26:3, 4; 2 Cor. 10:5)

Whom do I view as my providerMy frenetic efforts?  My genius?

 

Or GodAll the good things I have are from you. (Vs. 2)  Lord, forgive me for believing that I am the source of my familys provision. Help me to grasp the truth that you alone are the source of all that is good.  Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father (Jms. 1:17a) (See Psa. 84:11; Dan. 2:21; Matt. 7:11)

Who are my true heroes The powerful? The rich?  The accomplished?

 

Or the godly whom God holds in high esteem? The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them!This is the one I esteem: he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and trembles at my word.  (Vs. 3; Isa. 66:2b) (See Psa. 51:17; 138:6; Matt. 5:3; Lk. 18:13, 14; 1 Cor. 1:26-31))

To whom do I look for my fulfillment?  The people who tell me how wonderful I am?  The folks a rung or two up the ladder, whose nod of approval is of paramount importance to me?

Or to God? LORD, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessingThe land you have given me is a pleasant land. What a wonderful inheritance! [God] alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. (Vs. 16:5, 6 NLT; Psa. 62:6)

Who is it that guides and instructs me?  The power brokers in my business or professional world? The media?  Pop culture with much of its inane, mindless values? 

Or the voice of God, through the Spirit and word of God I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs meFor all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of GodYour word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path. (Vs. 16:7; Rom. 8:14; Psa. 119:105 NLT) (See Psa. 73:23, 24)

Wherein does my security lie?  My bank account?  My job? My family?  My status in the community?

Or in God aloneI know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me…Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. (Vs.16: 8; 73:25, 26 NLT)

Where is my primary focus?  On the temporal, as evidenced by being anxiously ensnared in the daily cares of life; operating in survival mode; slamming an jamming to get and stay ahead of the rat pack.

Or on the eternal:  Living joyfully and  expectantly for the day when I will be released into his eternal presence? You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever. (Vs. 16:11)  (See Act. 2:28; 1 Cor. 13:12; 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 1 Jn. 3:2)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

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

5)  We learned how to maintain communication with each other:

 

We learned that communication is:

 

  The meeting of meanings.  (Paul Tournier)

  Recognizing that talking and having sex is not necessarily communication.

  Learning the art of disciplined listening with the head and the heart. (See Jms. 1:19, 20)

  Learning to respect the other persons point of view. (See I Pet. 3:8-11)

  Attacking the problematic issue rather than the person.

  Courageously facing and resolving problems, rather than sweeping them under the rug. 

  Not allowing bitterness or resentment to remain in the relationship.

  Understanding the meaning behind the words spoken.

  Learning and responding to our spouses love language: 1

Words of affirmation

Quality time

Receiving gifts

Acts of service

Physical touch

We prayerfully internalized key Scriptures, such as:

 

  Dont let bitterness or resentment spoil your marriage. (Col. 3:19 Phillips Trans.)

  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. (Col. 3:19 NIV)

   The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit. (Pro. 18:21)

  Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to become angry, for a mans anger does not bring about the righteousness life that God desires. (Jms. 1:19, 20)

  A man of knowledge uses words with restraint, and a man of understanding is even-tempered. (Pro. 17:27)

We discovered that to establish and maintain communication, we built into our schedule:

  A few minutes each day to talk and pray.

  A weekly date night.

  A quarterly half day together to re-evaluate, plan, re-connect, and have fun.

 

APPLICATION QUESTION:  Do you think your spouse feels that the two of you are in fact in touch with each other at the deepest level?  One suggestion: Schedule a day or two on your calendar where the two of you can get away to re-connect. One goal would be to find out if either of you harbor resentment or bitterness toward the other.

 

1 Credit Dr. Gary Chapman Five Love Languages  – Zondervan Publishing House