1. Dedicate your life to Christ
He pointedly said the way to Heaven is through Him alone so take it allegorically too. The way to marital Heaven is through Christ.
His mentality of others first inspires and infuses selflessness
A peace from God passing understanding reaches us through Him as we pray.
Philippians 4:5, 6
Even financial security is realized through Him
And so it goes, and as we’ll see, everywhere you turn in a Bible He is spoken of making provision for believers. Couples that work out their relationship with Christ as their master and center of their home life are statistically heavily favored to thrive.
2. Don’t blow it before you start (or restarted)
Your unspoken permission for divorce as an option, to be allowed anyplace at all in the conversation, is like a proverbial foot in the door. Once the foot is in the door it’s only a matter of time before the door opens wider.
We don’t even joke about it.
Your sexual passions will ruin you if you don’t reign them in. Keep yourself for your spouse. Don’t conjugate before you consummate; don’t couple before you’re coupled. The love and respect you demonstrate to your husband or wife to be, by restraint, gifting yourself, makes a difference that reverberates throughout the years. It’s a treasure. The same goes for porn and titular novels.
“Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.”
Give your folks a say in the process of choosing your mate. If they are not available find a pastoral leader in your fellowship to meet your girl or boyfriend. It makes a difference how much you want something to succeed as to what you are willing to do to assure it will.
3. Learn the art of sacrifice, submission and service
Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave Himself as a sacrifice for her. A wife is to submit to her husband as unto Christ. Husbands must learn the art of submission too since we are to submit to one another, and wives will learn to sacrifice. To sacrifice means it all goes in the fire, but not as a loss, as an offering, an investment, a statement of worth.
“Where your treasure is there will your heat be also.”
To submit is to get under which demands humility and is the key to the other person’s ability to release their secrets and specially to release them to you as a spouse.
And to your sacrifice and submission add service: “For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for pleasing yourself (flesh), but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Galatians 5:13, 14
4. Focus on understanding
I Peter 3:7
Peter says “live with your spouse in an understanding or considerate way.” Understanding is translated from a word for intimacy or ‘deeper knowing’ that is usually the result of learning.
Solomon wrote, “in all your knowledge get understanding (insight).”
• The primary skill in acquiring understanding is listening – listen, listen, listen! Find out what the burdens are and carry them. Think sacks of groceries but fill in lifting loads from the workday or sharing the burden of care for whatever your thoughtful questions draw out. “Love bears all things.”
• A second skill is sharing, sharing verbally, asking good questions that stimulate conversation.
• A third is to participate and promote each other’s interests.
5. Never go to bed angry
It will mean keeping short accounts of things that bother us about each other. One day to Stu on it is the most I should allow. “Let all malice and such be put away and be tenderhearted, forgiving one another even as God, for Christ sake has forgiven you.”
6. Compliment and work to enhance public opinion
Speak healthful words that create in your spouse an architecture of beauty. Take responsibility for how the public thinks of them. Speak into them the true features of their personality and skills.
“Do not speak unhealthy words. Rather speak words that build up (edify).”
Ephesians 4:29, 30
“Her husband praises her”
7. Practice traditions and rituals that include challenges and give room for crisis
Camping as an annual or semi-annual tradition is one great way you can learn to organize and work together and discover what makes each other comfortable. The challenge of problems that inevitably arise is good for conditioning for common life. Birthday trips, date nights, family reunions all play a part.
Remember that your marriage is the life you live with reward in view. I want to say in the end of it, "I have fought a good fight, finished my course, kept the faith, henceforth there is a crown awaiting..."
Grace today y’all!
Caring when bad things happen
My brother-in-law Bill Perry had the grace of a chance favor from a Christian couple that passed by at the very moment that he lost control of his little car on a stretch of highway in southern Georgia. He had gone off the road in lousy weather and slammed into a tree. Of course, they didn't know if he was alive, or if he was under the influence of some contributing substance, or what sort of status he had in the world. They didn't know if he was returning from a great Christian mission or a tryst with a person other than his wife. They knew nothing about him and they apparently didn't think they needed to. Rather than continuing on their way they went to the next exit and turned around to see if they could help.
My sister will be forever grateful to God for the courage of that Good Samaritan couple with Jesus like compassion, driven by a worldview based on the universal rule of law that we love our neighbors as ourselves, or as Jesus put it in another place:
"Do for others what we would have them do for us"
Grace today y'all!
A mystery of sports
Jordan Spieth fell back from leading the pack on Saturday, February 7th at the Waste Management PGA Golf Tournament to a tie for fourth place. "Spieth opened with a pair of 67s and then blitzed TPC Scottsdale on Saturday to the tune of 10-under 61."(1) His score of 61 was 10 below par for Saturday, but surprisingly on Sunday he was barely able to escape with a one over 72. "One day after…a bogey-free 61 to validate the hard work to resurrect his game, he showed there is still work to be done in order to return to the winner’s circle." [ibid]
“Felt like I hit good putts, and as much as the lid was open other days, it was closed today.”
One day mastery, the next day misery
Failing to score so well down the stretch left him with an admirable total and but also left him wondering at what happened to make Sunday so different from Saturday. The analyst might say Jordan needs a winner’s mental toughness – a mind to win that overcomes fears and distractions, or more discipline in his physical preparations for greater muscle memory so his shots are consistent - probably all true.
Sometimes life is like that. There does seem to be a mystery to the experience of bringing your good game one day and showing up flat the next. Who can completely control that?
It happens to me too
In my vocation I face off largely against myself, standing on trial before my own stat line. I can't let discouragement affect my game. Getting back into the necessary rigor of preparation with the help of any lessons learned from the time before is a requirement of my job. One reason I follow sports like golf, which I have rarely ever played, is the common experiences of competition against one's self and the spirit of champions who overcome obstacles, mental, physical or otherwise, in order to win.
All of us face some days we are fluid and others when we're flat. Maybe we can swing out of it, but sometimes we just take it and hope for a better day, while putting in all the work necessary to ensure success as much as it depends on us.
I agree with Mr. Spieth when he says:
"Stats are important to me, especially the ones related to scoring. You're going to miss fairways and greens out here, so how you play from the sand really matters." [Jordan Spieth - Wikipedia quotes]
Coming back from a bad experience on one fairway and green to play the next with fewer mistakes, or to play the same course the following day and not be intimidated by the sand traps and water hazards you swung into the day before, or to face your next tournament with confidence takes a champion's heart, and the mentality of an overcomer.
Saints need confidence too
For the saint of God coach Paul has said:
"We glory in tough experience, (games good and bad, sand traps and water hazards) knowing that such tribulation produces endurance, and endurance experience, and experience hope. Hope as saints won't leave us ashamed because the love of God that showed itself when we were without strength and still failing, was demonstrated when Christ died for us."
Romans 5:3-8 [paraphrasing mine]
As believers, if our hope is built only on a consistent sense of success in all our endeavors we will despair, but if we swing with the knowledge that God has loved us, and that Christ would demonstrate it for us while we were without strength and still failures, our confidence to face another day of traps and hazards will be greatly enhanced.
His love gets us on our feet in the morning, puts a fresh ball on the tee and cheers us on in our game despite the mystery of fluid days and flat.
Grace today y'all
1. Adam Schupak [Golf Week, 2/7/2021]
Of idioms and idiots
"Jacob I loved, Esau I hated” is an idiom, a figure of speech that means a choice has been made between two. It could be, but is not always, a statement of actual hate as we think of hate speech or scowling rejection. Before they were born Yahweh made a choice - as we would think of it – through which of the boys the ancestry of the Christ would develop. No equal treatment, though those God “hates” often get their own separate, special and generous provisos, especially if they do not succumb to idiocy. They would need to overcome resentments and remain steadfast in their devotion toward Yahweh.
Sadly, we rarely do
A choice between two had been made the generation before in the case of Isaac over Ishmael, and would be made again in the following generation concerning Joseph, Jacob’s son by his favorite of two wives. Of Jacob it had been foretold he would, as the younger of twins, be treated as if firstborn. His line would carry the “seed of the woman” forward in anticipation of Messiah (Christ). This is why so much is made of it. The line of Christ was not according to natural selection, but one of divine choice.
On our end of it, dealing with such a choice - even if we are fully aware of the purpose of God - can be tough, but we don’t need to be idiotic in out reactions.
Think of Saul when he heard the happy crowds lining the streets of the capital cheering as David, the young whippersnapper and up-and-coming warrior leader walked toward the king’s residence to make his report. The ladies called out their compliments as they acknowledged their benefit of having such great men as their protectors, “Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten-thousands!” Their cheer was not a slight against Saul, but an idiom of high regard for not just one great warrior, but a generous benefit of two. They were probably thinking something along the line of, “With two great men like Saul and David, how can we lose?”
Too often we behave like idiots
Saul took it personally as an affront and became immediately, and irrepressibly jealous. He had begun to lose his mind and occasionally suffered fits of madness. With the episodes came extreme reactions to David’s presence and the eventual chase of David in wasted effort to eliminate him as contender for the throne for the sake of a dynasty through his favored son Jonathan.
According to a report in Hebrews 12, Esau became bitter upon realization the choice of his brother Jacob was irrevocable. His further recorded history in Genesis reveals his reaction as defiant of his parents and more importantly of God – idiotic. Another familiar case is found in Luke 15 where we discover a father’s favorable dealing with his younger prodigal son upon his return home. The special treatment and celebration over the prodigal’s return caused his older, seemingly more faithful brother, no small angst – also idiotic.
We could be idiots
We won’t always get what we want. Occasionally others may be chosen instead of us, or for the moment, shown more favor. We also won’t always know the reasons why. Saul was told why David was chosen over him, but it isn’t always so. Even if we were to be told, in that moment it might not make sense to us anyway. What we have to work with is our baseline personal devotion toward the will of God and the knowledge that He has good reason for things working as they do when it comes to real or felt rejection.
Peter was taken to school on this very point. Note that in his case, as recorded in John 21, Peter began to realize the different path marked out for his companion John, and when he questioned the Lord, Jesus flatly said,
“What concern is that to you, you follow Me.”
Precisely what I need to hear. “Stu, don’t be an idiot. Whether it is due to mistakes you’ve made that you have been passed over or not, at least as far as you can see it, your response to it will make the difference in your future.”
“Crucified,” is a modern idiom for being dealt with unjustly. It harkens back to the injustice shown Jesus Christ in His execution for crimes that were hung on Him without merit. A criminal was released by the will of the mob and Jesus was instead led off to a cross. Despite the injustices His response throughout was “Father, I remain committed to Your faithfulness toward Me (I Peter 2:23),” and “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing (Luke 23:34).”
Paul seems to have settled such matters in his personal life and work by rehearsing,
“I am crucified with Christ, never-the-less I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
His testimony is loaded. On the one hand, and most importantly, he says that Christ is His substitute in death for offences against God he knew he was guilty of. In that Christ had died for him he was counted as having died and was therefore released from his guilt and set free. Notice he lives by faith in the Son of God what he has done and not in his own merits. But he alludes to a second reality, because in that Christ was crucified unjustly, and suffered in ways He never deserved, those like Paul that identify with Christ also realize they may be ‘crucified’ by an unwitting world that simply wants rid of us. Paul considered himself so and so should we.
Enough for now,
Grace today y’all