Invisible Nourishment

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Jill and I frequently share the analogy of dancing as an explanation of a healthy marriage. Some couples dance well, some do not. Frequently they simply get out of step over time. Thankfully, this can be fixed.

A Pattern Like a Dance

We were recently given this quote:

“A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern, intricate but gay and swift and free, like a country dance of Mozart’s. To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back — it does not matter which. Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.” — Anne Morrow Lindbergh

I love the last sentence in particular:

  • Partners: As Zig Ziglar correctly said: Many Marriages would be better if the Husband and Wife clearly understood they are on the Same Side.”
  • The same rhythm: The rhythm of God, marriage itself, covenant and again, partnership.
  • Creating a pattern together: What are you creating together? ARE you creating together? And not simply children, but what else?
  • Invisibly nourished: Most of the benefits of marriage are small, simple and sadly, easy to miss. They are also easy to forget to do.

Let us never forget to be partners moving in the same rhythm, creating our patterns, and invisibly – and visibly – nourishing each other along the way.

photo credit: IMG_5931 via photopin (license)

Follow the Instructions

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This past Saturday I unpacked and assembled a new floor fan we bought. I’ll admit right now that I usually glance at instructions and jump right into the work.

And that’s what I did Saturday.

Counterclockwise

Once I got all the parts out I started to put one part with another using my logic and the picture on the box. I double checked one particular step with the instructions and then pushed ahead until the second to last step.

It was then that I found myself frustratingly turning and pushing and pushing and turning the piece designed to hold the fan blades to the motor. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get it to screw or slide onto the bolt!

Since attaching the blades tightly is kinda important, I began to get worried. What if the piece was broken? Did they design it wrong? Would I have to take it all back to the store?

Then I had the brilliant idea to check the instructions and there was the answer: turn the piece counterclockwise.

Just Like Life

After thinking, “oh yeah, fans turn one way so the piece has to turn the opposite” my second thought was how often my initial logic and turning and pushing have failed me in life (my third thought was, “Hey Steve, write about this in next week’s Family Life blog!”).

So once again, God used life to remind me to seek instruction not just when I’m in trouble but to seek it all the time.

Instruction from His Word:

“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” — 2 Timothy 3:16

Instruction from the Author Himself:

“For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.” — Ephesians 2:18

Instruction from one another, too:

“…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.” — Hebrews 10:24-25

Success is a team sport, let’s finish well.

Love Has Won

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Yes, that’s a picture of roses. Yes, they are rainbow colored. Yes, the rainbow has been hijacked as the symbol for gay marriage and “#lovewins”. Yes, we’re writing about this topic.

Yes, Love Wins

There are two signs I have learned to see in every act of the enemy:

  • Counterfeit: He cannot create, so he counterfeits. Sex for love. Pride for self-confidence. Homosexuality for (often difficult and challenging) heterosexuality. Etc., etc., etc., etc.
  • Overplaying: He “pushes the envelope” so far that God is pointed out.

On this issue, the overplaying is #lovewins because, my dear brothers and sisters, Love wins. In fact, Love has won.

There are countless Scriptures to support this fact, but I particularly like this one:

“And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” — Colossians 2:15

To go one step further, even this “triumphing over them by the cross” was a “public spectacle” to show us the spiritual truth of God’s eternal and absolute sovereignty over the enemy. Satan has always been UNDER God’s authority.

So take heart when you see #lovewins that indeed it did, it has and it will.

And then be witnesses.

Witnesses

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” — Acts 1:8

Note that this Scripture does NOT say that we will witness. Instead, it says we “will be my witnesses…”. The Greek words (eimi and martys) literally mean “to exist as a legal, historical and ethical witness”.

This means, MEANS, that everything you and I do points people to our Savior – or not.

  • Love our neighbor as ourselves: Let’s love people because while we were yet sinners (as in every moment of every day) God first loved us. Does that mean ignoring people’s sin? In a way, yes. More on this in a moment.
  • Love our neighbors: Let’s be in relationship with some people and not worry about the masses. I’m not called to publicly support or condemn an issue or a particular person (some brothers and sisters are), but I am called to love those who God places in my life. So are you.
  • Be men and women of God: God created men and women different, let’s get our acts together and represent His purposes well.
  • Have healthy, stable and Godly marriages and families: Being “doers of the Word” (James 1:22) in this area alone would change the topics of sex and sexuality forever (which is the point of “will be my witnesses…”).
  • Know the Word: You can’t be an effective witness or doer of the Word without knowing the Word personally. Let’s get our act together here, too.
  • Know the Author: The Word is not enough though, we must know Him in order to know how to use the Word and live our lives. Otherwise, we fall into the all too common trap of using the Sword of Truth to cut off people’s ears. We must be in relationship with God to witness well because life happens!

Which brings me to:

Jesus

I mentioned earlier that we should ignore people’s sins and here’s why…Jesus does.

Jesus saves while we are yet sinners. Jesus loves, redeems, walks with, heals and all the rest despite the fact that we are still sinners. And Jesus calls us to “go and sin no more” knowing that that we are still sinners.

#LoveWins

We are called to share the loving and saving grace of a Savior that the world desperately needs through the witness of our lives (Romans 12:1). When we do THIS well, people will believe on His name and receive the same loving and saving grace.

And when that happens:

#LoveHasWon.

Back to the Basics

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We decided to do something different this week by returning to the roots of this blog. So, as a matter of reminding us all, here’s the first blog we posted in early 2014.

“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed be kept pure…” – Hebrews 13:4

Our Story

If you’ve read the Steve and Jill page, you know that years 7 and 8 of our marriage were a…challenge. We made it through because of three interrelated factors:

  1. We believed that marriage was a covenant for life. We still do.
  2. Neither one of us wanted to get a divorce on the same day. This meant that when one wanted to leave the other said, “no, not today.” We literally made it through our toughest period one day at a time.
  3. We sought council and hung around people that…well, honored marriage.

Neither of these factors was enough to save our marriage individually. Together, however, they kept us in the fight.

And the fight was worth it.

The Affect of Honor

We are not sharing this story to give ourselves kudos or to in anyway imply that success is easy or assured.

We are sharing a personal testimony about the affect of honoring marriage. Honoring marriage means treating it as something valuable and treasured. Let’s look at these in reverse order:

  • Treasured – the Greek word for honored, timios, means “as of great price, precious” and “held in honour, esteemed, especially dear”
  • Valuable – marriage matters. Not just for the people involved, but for all of humanity.
  • Something – while it’s true that marriage is made up of two people, it is a “thing” unto itself.

That marriage is a “something” created by two people is the most important lesson we learned from our experience outside of the faithfulness of God. And just like any other “something”, marriage can be examined, diagnosed, discussed, worked on, worked in, tweaked.

Healed.

photo credit: Direction is the key via photopin (license)

Marriage and the Kingdom of God

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A wise mentor of mine, the late Dr. Barry Grove, used to say that, “a fantasy is something you think you can have without having to change”. The older I get the more wise this statement has become.

Marriage

Marriage is hard and here is why:

  • Marriage is the way you discover you have bad breath every morning.
  • Marriage is the way you discover your spouse has bad breath every morning.

Bad breath isn’t that big a deal of course. It can be solved with a tooth brush, tooth paste and water, right? But what if it isn’t?

  • What would happen if you said to your spouse, “I don’t have bad breath, you just have a bad nose!” “Stop nagging me!” “I’ll have better breath tomorrow, I promise!”
  • What would happen if your spouse said the same things to you? What would you do if your spouse refused to brush their teeth because they didn’t want to change?

How long would your marriage survive?

Real Issues

What happens if we replace bad breath with temper, sexual dysfunction, miscommunication, abuse, addiction, paralyzing fears, and other issues?

It’s a crucial question because (a) EVERY marriage deals will all of these issues and more (some are minor and some are not) and (b) EVERY spouse reacts in the ways described above. Yes, every marriage and every spouse.

Any of these sound familiar?

  • “Stop yelling at me!” or, “You make me so mad!”
  • “Why don’t you love me anymore?” or, “Why is sex so important to you?”
  • “I don’t understand!” or, “I’ve told you that 100 times!”
  • “If you ever do that again…” or, “I didn’t mean to!”
  • “Just one more time and then I’ll stop.” or, “I can’t take it anymore!”
  • “But what if…?” or, “This will NEVER change!”
  • Or…

How long will a marriage survive if these are left unaddressed?

The Kingdom of God

In Matthew Chapter 20, the mother of Zebedee’s sons asked Jesus, “Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in the kingdom (verse 21)”. Here’s verse 22:

“”You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said to them. “Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?” “We can,” they answered.”

I bring up this Scripture because it ties to the fantasy quote above and how we all approach marriage. The disciples had no idea how much change they would have to make to be worthy of their call. They wanted the success without the cup of change, just like all of us in our marriages.

But there’s good news because Philippians 1:6 tells us that, “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus”.

We can therefore be confident that He will help us change into the kind of spouse that has a truly successful marriage.

photo credit: Trim Castle via photopin (license)

Dating and Marriage and Dating, Oh My!

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In our last post, The Purpose of Dating – Part 1, we shared some effective tips on what we called “early dating” for young adults. But what about older adults, those that are 20-ish and up?

Glad you asked, but first:

Marriage Conference

Our heartfelt thanks to Mike & Doris Courtney, Robert and Joan Collier, Springhouse Worship and Arts Center, Nathan Owen (lights), Jonathan Beaty (sound), Jim Caldwell (photos) and ALL the attendees for making this past weekend’s, “I Still Do!” marriage conference a HUGE success. Thank you, thank you!

Now, back to…

Dating

We ended the last post with these two statements:

  1. The primary purpose for early dating (and each household must decide what “early” means…) should be to get to know many, many people of the opposite sex.
  2. It is NOT to find the “love of your life” or “the one”, that will come later.

It should come as no surprise then, that our suggestion for later dating IS to find the “love of your life” or “the one” (as long as you recognize the myths of finding “the perfect one”).

Here are a few tips with this in mind:

  • Date as many people as it takes. We’re not suggesting sneaking around behind people’s backs; we’re suggesting dating lots of people. Which also means:
  • Don’t fall deeply in love and break up over and over again. Yes, even as older adults you should avoid the training cycle of divorce skills mentioned in our last post.
  • Once you DO find the possible “one”, date them a LOT and ask lots of questions. The pastor on this video recommends 1,000.

Dating and Marriage

But note two things about these 1,000 questions:

  • You will NEVER learn everything about the other person. It’s just not possible because you both – hopefully – will continually change and grow and mature for the rest of your lives.
  • You will also NEVER learn that you are now “in love” enough to sustain a lifelong of marriage. It’s just not possible because you both – hopefully – will continually change and grow and mature for the rest of your lives.

The purpose of dating and asking 1,000 questions is to find the person you never want to stop dating.

Marriage and Dating

This is not a post to remind married couples to go on romantic dates periodically. It is a post about having a healthy, life-long marriage by:

  • Resting in your choice of a spouse once and for all. A healthy marriage is built on the one time decision of ’til death do us part’.
  • Spending your lives getting to know each other as you continually change and grow and mature for the rest of your lives.

And btw, a great way to spend your lives getting to know each other is to periodically going on romantic dates together. 😉

photo credit: 81311-53 via photopin (license)

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