Tag Archives: family

Beautiful Boy

I’m really looking forward to this movie coming in October (see trailer below).    It’s based on a true story about a father trying to help his son overcome addiction.

I’ll be interested to see how it plays out.   We know that when it comes to dealing with loved ones suffering with addiction that we cannot make them do anything.  In my experience, no one was ever able to “fix me.”    They wanted it, prayed for it, at times tried to manage it, but in the end the only thing that will heal the addict is the addict deciding they have had enough pain and become willing to admit their powerlessness and need for a power greater than ourselves to save us.

I know this frustrates the daylights out of our family and friends (but there is help for them too!   Look into Al-Anon, CoDa and other support groups for family members of addicts!)

What experience, strength and hope do you have to offer family members going through the pain of watching their loved one suffer?

 

Marriage Isn’t For You (or your spouse)

I have seen this blog about marriage being shared so much lately by so many different people that I thought I’d actually read it.  It’s written by a fairly new husband who shares the advice his dad gave him about marriage:

marriage isn’t for you. You don’t marry to make yourself happy, you marry to make someone else happy. More than that, your marriage isn’t for yourself, you’re marrying for a family. Not just for the in-laws and all of that nonsense, but for your future children. Who do you want to help you raise them? Who do you want to influence them? Marriage isn’t for you. It’s not about you. Marriage is about the person you married.”

It’s a call to live selflessly for one’s spouse, which I don’t disagree with.  It is true that marriage, or any relationship for that matter, shouldn’t be about self but about others.   As a Christian, my marching orders from God are to consider others more highly than myself (Phil. 2:3) and to love my neighbor as myself (Mark 12:31).  Certainly that must include my wife, and, shockingly, everyone else.

But the idea that a marriage is all about my spouse, or that the chief goal of marriage is to make another person “happy” is not at all the goal of Christian marriages.

The goal of a Christian marriage, and the goal of any relationship for that matter, is to be made holy.

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God’s will for me and my wife, and for you and your spouse, is that you become more like Jesus (1 Thess. 4:3), which is to become holy.   The way we are made holy is an ongoing, life-long process that is done in community with others.   Marriage, like a church, is one of those places where you quickly learn the Self that has for so long steered your ship needs to die.  Realizing that you are no longer your own man (or woman) and that you do not even have authority over your body (1 Cor. 7:3-4) but that your spouse does is often a painful realization.

But coming to this realization is not for the sake of making your spouse happy.  It’s to make us holy.

What ought to be happening in our marriage is what ought to be happening in our relationship with Christ, and what happens in our relationship with Christ ought to be happening in our marriages.   In both relationships we are told we are not our own.   We have been bought with a price and your duty – married or not, family or not, kids or not – is to glorify God (1 Cor. 6:20).

When we subvert this focus and make marriage all about making our spouse happy we fall prey to the lie that says happiness is the goal of life and become full of pride in thinking we can provide it.

The best gift I can give my wife is not happiness, but Jesus.

So yes, marriage isn’t about you.   But it isn’t about your spouse, either.   It’s about bringing glory to God.   If you will focus on pleasing your Husband in Heaven you will have something far more valuable than happiness:   JOY and PEACE.   And these can never be taken away from you, regardless of the circumstances of your relationship.

Resources to help your marriage:

Check out Gary Thomas’ book, Sacred Marriage: What if God Designed Marriage to Make Us Holy More Than to Make Us Happy.  

My wife, Amy’s, sermon: Sacred Roles:  The Wife

My sermon: Sacred Roles: The Husband

God Has Chosen Our Heritage

Last week, the day after Thanksgiving, I had the honor of speaking at my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary celebration.   Some family members have since asked for the words to that sermonette, so here they are.    Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for inspiring such ideas!  

There is this wonderful word tucked away in Psalm 47 which came to life for me as I thought about what I might say today.   It reads, God chose our heritage for us (Psalm 47).    This strikes both a note of grace and mercy for us today.   Grace because today we celebrate the joy and love of such a heritage and give thanks for numerous ways grandma and grandpa’s shared lives have had a profound impact on so many.   Mercy because the shade this family tree provides, under which we are gathered here today, is similar to the shade of another tree, the cross of Christ, which summons us, even demands of us, a response.   

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 God has chosen our heritage for us and we would do well today, even in the midst of great celebration, to inspect the fruit of our own trees.

 As I told people why were making the trip from TN to PA – that my grandparents were celebrating their 60th year as a couple – the responses I received were all the same:  wow, you don’t see that very often.    

 Sad, but true.   What is so sad and tragic about this observation is the lack of testimony on God’s earth of the sacredness of covenant between two people and the witness it should provide the world of God’s solidarity with us. 

 I don’t think grandma and grandpa would mind me saying that what we celebrate here today should not be considered a miracle or something extraordinary but what ought to be commonplace, particularly among those who claim to live under the shade of the cross.  Marriages that persevere through decade after decade, which carry on through seasons of feast or famine, which determine to live by faith rather than feelings, which make a choice to love in the same way God has made a choice for us ought to be the rule rather than the exception among we who have been given such a heritage. 

 God has chosen our heritage for us.  It is fitting that we should take this time to consider how we will honor God’s choice towards us, even as we honor my grandma and grandpa.   Such is God’s mercy.

God has chosen our heritage for us.  It is fitting to celebrate today the race Grandma and Grandpa have run and continue to run.  We are all benefactors of their steadfastness.  Grandma and Grandpa, I hope the presence of all of these here today says to you how much your marriage has touched so many lives.  Such is God’s grace.     

Gratitude: The antidote for lust

I’ve had a few management interviews at Amazon where I work.  One of the standard questions asked in the process goes something like this:

How do you handle stress in your life or keep from being negative?

I use this occasion to tell them about my faith in God and how an attitude of thanksgiving is something our household strives to uphold daily.  I tell them about the “Thanksgiving Tree” we made which hangs on our wall, comprised of cut-out hands of each family member where the fingers (which look like a turkey) are filled in with things for which we are each thankful.    I tell them how each night before bed we go around the family and share a praise – something to give God thanks over – before we pray.

Thankfully, thanksgiving and praise has become a cornerstone of our home.

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And it’s a good thing, too.   Paul says in his first chapter to the Romans that there are many who know God, but because “they did not honor him as God or give thanks to Him” they became “futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:21).

A thankless home and heart will eventually become a dark one.

When I am short on my thank-list or feeling down I recall a sermon I heard by Doug Detert while at Pure Life on gratitude.   He said there are 4 things we can always be thankful for and if we make it a habit to give thanks for these 4 things we will soon find our spirits lifted.    Those things are:

1.  Our Father in Heaven who is good, and loves me.

2. The blood of Jesus Christ which bought me.

3. The gift of the Holy Spirit who is changing me.

4. And the creative Word of God, which makes something new out of what was not there before.

These truths are unchanging, despite our circumstances.    We can always be thankful for these four things.   I have found that when I meditate on these I am strengthened, and the “lusts of this world” lose their hold on me.

Thanks be to God.