Even a superficial reading of the Old Testament leaves one with the understanding that the basic unit of God’s structure for man is the family. Whether you are married or single, we all belong to a “family” of some type. The problem today is that those family relationships are being tested, and in far too many instances, broken. This is a problem with long-term consequences.
God intended the family, marital or otherwise, as the place where values are taught, where love is expressed, where there is safety, to name just a few of the facets of family life. It is a place that is bathed in love.
Each of us is a tablet upon which the other members of our family can write. When the family is intact, strong, and functioning well what is written is always couched in love. When the family is broken the messages are couched in anything but love.
The only way to keep the messages that are written on the tablets of our loves ones positive is to keep the bounds of the family intact. Can you live with strangers writing on the tablets of your loved ones with messages that are contrary to what you know should be written?
If not, then work at keeping your family healthy. Solve the problems that arise, don’t walk away from them only to carry that baggage into your next relationship.
Popular wisdom states that a couple should enter marriage wearing rose-colored glasses so as to not see the imperfections in their spouse. Perhaps we’ve got this backwards.
Over the years, experience has shown that it would be better, and healthier, for the marriage for both parties if they began with an honest appraisal of their spouse – warts and all. As the normal events of a new marriage unfold, and we learn to live with those imperfections, then it is time to don the glasses so that we can look past the flaws and concentrate on the good things that attracted us to our spouse.
The truth is that we are all sinners and no matter how much we love our spouse, he/she, like us, is going, to be flawed by sin. The consequence of that flaw is that we will fight, we will say angry things, and we will go to bed angry even though we shouldn’t. It says that there will be difficult days in the life of our marriage. This is a natural outcome of two sinful, loving people living in intimate contact with one another.
However, when we re-read what Paul has to say concerning the roles of a husband and wife in the marriage, obedience to what he has written automatically demands that we don the rose-colored glasses.
Have you got yours on and how are they fitting these days?
Scripture: Ephesians 5:15-32
That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine
That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine is a song that dates back to the early 30’s, co-written by Gene Autry and Jimmy Long. It’s the lament of a son for the difficulties that he caused his father in growing up. He recognizes that it’s too late to atone for what he had done to his father. He wishes that God could give him back the time that he lost so that he could do things differently but he knows that that’s a futile request.
Could “he” be you? In recalling your relationship with your father, or mother, do you lament not having been a better son or daughter? Everyone has some things that we wished that we had done better, or kinder, or more gracefully. That’s just a part of being an adult.
The point is this: we only have one chance before time moves on and the opportunity to correct a mistake is gone, never to return. So, don’t waste it. Keep in mind that the four most important and powerful words in the English language are these: “I’m sorry” and “forgive me.”
Scripture: Exodus 20:12
The Power Of Identity
Who are you – mother, father, aunt, uncle, friend, foe, old, young, etc.? Your identity is important! It informs others about you and to an extent, defines how they treat you.
As a Christian, what identifies you? How can others tell that you are a Christian and how does your identity determine how you are treated? In truth, there have been numerous books and articles written answering these two questions.
The answer to the question of what identifies you is your baptism. This is where you are linked to your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This linkage changes your life. No longer can you continue in the ways of your former identity. You take on a new identity; the identity of being a Christian.
Others cannot help but notice the changes. Some will react positively, while others may not. But for you, these changes will carry you into eternal life as promised by God the Father.
Scripture: Romans 6:1-14
The Power Of Ashes
There is a story of a pastor of a country church who was visiting with one member of the congregation who, over time, had become less and less a part of the congregation. They spoke of many things that affected the parishioner but when the pastor steered their talk back to participation in the congregation, he was met with silence.
As he was leaving, the pastor stopped by the stove that heated the member’s home. Taking the tongs that hung by the stove, he plucked one, and only one, ember from the fire and sat it on top of the stove.
The following Sunday, the pastor looked out over his congregation and there seated in the back was this long-lost member.
What happened to change the mind of this member? Perhaps, it was watching that one ember that the pastor had removed from the fire die out when it was there by itself.
A true story? Who knows? True or not, however, it does illustrate the fundamental truth that as Christians, we need the community of others to keep our “ember” of faith alive.
Scripture: Matthew 18:19-20
A few years back, there was a popular movement that went by the name – “What Would Jesus Do?”. We don’t hear this phrase anymore, as like all popular movements, it has run its course. However, it did ask this question: is my action consistent with what Jesus taught, i.e. is it consistent with God’s will for me and those whom my action will touch?
While the movement no longer exists to the degree that it once did, the question that it asked is still pertinent. Are our actions, and those of our leaders, consistent with God’s will?
There are two separate events told in Genesis that illustrate this point.
Jacob and Esau were two brothers with widely differing talents and gifts. The elder, Esau, literally went to war with his brother. Yet, they eventually managed to reconcile their differences and move forward with their lives.
The interaction of Joseph and his brothers tells a similar story. Jealous of their brother Joseph, the older brothers sold him into slavery. Yet, Joseph who eventually obtained great power over his brothers chose not revenge, but love in addressing the wrongdoing done by them to him.
The point? It’s simple. We must learn to both listen and forgive. Jacob and Esau were able to do this as was Joseph. Perhaps we should be the example to our leaders and show forgiveness for those with whom we differ.
Scripture: Genesis 25 and following
Take Care Of Your Marriage
Marriage is one of God’s gifts to His children. It’s like a fine wine that ages well with care and nurturing. With each passing year it can become more robust and full-bodied, or it can spoil, turning to the sourest of vinegars.
So, what does it take to care for and nurture a marriage? Well, not only does God give us this institution of marriage, He also teaches us how to take care of it.
He tells us that a wife should be submissive to her husband; not as an inferior to him but as a partner in the marriage. He goes on to tell a husband that he should love his wife as Christ loved the Church, placing her welfare first in his life above all else. Still not done, He tells a wife that she should respect her husband, the implication being that he should be deserving of her respect.
If both of you can accomplish this, then your marriage will sweeten and become more robust and enjoyable with each passing year. It will take some work and possibly a change in focus, but it is worth the effort. Why? Because you will be living according to His will for you; finding a peace that can be found nowhere else.
Scripture: Ephesians 5
Hugged Your Family Today?
Did you hug your children before you left for work today? How about telling your spouse that you love him, or her? If you don’t have children or are not married, did you tell a friend how much you value their friendship?
If you didn’t, you missed a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your relationships with them. Perhaps you were just too busy or something else had your attention. Yes, this happens to all of us at one time or another. However, can we ever justify being too busy or too distracted to focus for a few moments on a loved one? Just maybe your day would have been better if you had taken the time to tell someone how much you love them.
It’s a good thing that God is never too busy or too preoccupied to tell you how much He loves you. Even when you don’t think that you deserve it you do, for His love is unconditional!
Give it a try this week and see what happens; you might be surprised.
Scripture: John 3:16
The New Year
By now the Thanksgiving turkey is gone, the Christmas presents have been unwrapped, and you’re running on “empty.” If Thanksgiving and Christmas were not enough of a drain on your energy reserves, after the New Years celebrations your tank may well be dry.
The holidays, however, are worth the energy that they demand. You’ve had an opportunity to give thanks for what you have, to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and welcome in the new year.
As you’re resting, it’s a good opportunity to think about what you’d like to get accomplished in the coming year. Will this year be just a copy of the last, or will you make changes?
Here’s a suggestion as to how to approach the question. Take a look at your priorities. Do they reflect God’s plan: Him first, your family next, your friends and then everything else.
Scripture: Ecclesiastes 3
Happy New Year
The Office of a Wife
One of the most devastating events in life is divorce! It is a difficult and painful time, not only for those involved but for loved ones as well. Nothing is ever truly right for a long time after the failure of a marriage no matter how much each partner is at fault.
There are many ways in which divorce can be prevented. The most important among these is how a husband relates to his wife.
Scripture tells us that she is to submit to her husband and to respect him. Scripture doesn’t stop here however. It lays an even greater responsibility on her husband. He is to love her and care for her as Christ loved His bride the church. Even though she is not perfect, a husband must place her above all other things, above his own wants and desires just as Christ did for His bride. He willingly gave up His own life so that she could stand before God pure and blemish free.
When a husband can do this, then he makes it possible for her to willingly obey God’s will for her in the marriage.
Scripture: Ephesians 5