Thursday, March 26, 2009

True Love ~ Musings on I Corinthians 13

We watched a movie recently and a line was, "Why do two people get married anyway? How can you promise to feel the same way forever?"

I agree with the girl who said this. You can't promise to feel a certain way forever. Feelings are very fickle and do not always behave very rationally.

But, what this girl failed to realize is that love is not a feeling and marriage is not a promise to feel anything.

Love is the unconditional commitment to act in a loving manner. This is love between a man and his wife, a mother and her children, neighbors, and the lost. If we say we love someone it means that we commit to behave in a loving way--even when we don't feel like it!

When those that I'm close to try my patience and I feel like throwing in the towel, I will remember, "Love suffers long..."

When that person cuts in front of me at the grocery store and I'm tempted to burn them with my laser stare, I will remember, "Love is kind...."

When my girlfriend's husband brings her flowers and whisks her off on romantic weekends or buys her a new dishwasher, I will remember, "Love does not envy..."

When my husband brings me flowers and whisks me off to a romantic weekend or buys me a new dishwasher, I will remember, "Love does not parade itself, it is not puffed up..."

When I'm tempted to give my husband a cold shoulder or tell him to take a cold shower, I will remember, "Love does not behave rudely..."

When I'm tempted to spend the grocery money on a new pair of shoes, I will remember, "Love does not seek its own...."

When the children start the day whining and it only gets worse from there, I will remember, "Love is not provoked..."

When my mind wants to play all the what ifs, I will remember, "Love thinks no evil...."

When I'm flipping channels and tempted to linger a little at that interesting daytime drama, I will remember, "Love does not rejoice in iniquity..."

When the enemy tells me that I'm not in love anymore or that my husband isn't in love with me anymore I will tell the enemy to hush because, "Love rejoices in the truth..."

When life throws me all sorts of curves and my rose colored glasses get fogged up with my tears I will remember, "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things."

When I don't know what to do next or what choice to make. I will take necessary risks because, "Love never fails."

Marriage, parenting, Christianity--or any other worthwhile commitment in this life--is not based on feelings. It's a commitment that even when I don't feel like loving you, when you are not being lovable, when I'm tired, when I'm hurt, I will behave in a loving way. That's Christian love.

Too bad the mother of the girl in the movie didn't explain that to her. Instead she said, "Yeah, sometimes things change."

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dennis Swanberg-Bengy and The Zipper

Check out this hillarious video by Pastor Dennis Swanberg on marriage. It will keep you laughing!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stuff We Recommend #1

The FamilyLife Marriage Bible: Equipping Couples For Life.

Available in the FamilyLife bookstore. Only $17.49!

Mark's Review: Gives you a deeper understanding
what God intended for marriage and family. Also builds oneness with your spouse. Love it!

Grace In Marriage

Family Cell Notes

Grace In Marriage:

-Grace: God gives us something good that we do not deserve.
-Mercy: God withholds something bad we do deserve.

-Family: The Grace Place

-Romans 16:24- “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” Paul knew we all need to know and experience the grace of our Father.

-Just like forgiveness, marriage gives us endless opportunity to extend grace to our spouse and children.

-Remember, we all stumble. We will wound our spouse without knowing it; other times we do it on purpose.

-What does grace look like in a marriage and family?
1. Grace says you failed me, but I will bless you.
2. Grace exhibits love when lashing out could be justified.
3. Grace creates relationships that are safe and where failure is not fatal.
4. Grace proves that a person has value, even when he does not perform.
5. Grace forgives, perseveres, and blesses that person.

-Weak Enough For Grace
-2 Cor. 12:9- “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
-It takes time to work out our faults.
-At times we want and expect instant change.
-God tells us that it is in our weakness that He will be glorified.

-The Grass Suffers
-An African proverb says, “When the elephants fight, it’s the grass that suffers.”
-The grass represents our children.
-What kind of model for the husband/wife relationship are we teaching our children?
-Do they see a marriage of peace, joy, and love?
-Are we showing our children how to handle conflict and disagreement with love and respect?

-Ecclesiastes 4:11- “Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”

-Christian marriage is a cord of three strands- a husband, a wife, and Jesus.

-Is your marriage built upon the foundation of Christ or is it built upon eggshells that crumble under your feet?

-With Jesus as our foundation, we can whether the storms of marriage.

-Allow Christ to Rule All

-Luke 10:27- “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.”

-Allow God to rule all parts of your life.

-Consider your heart a house with many rooms. Have you allowed God into every room?

-Open the room of pride, selfishness, expectations, unforgiveness, judgment, self pity......

-When you allow God into these rooms. He steps in with Love, Forgiveness, and Grace.


Family Cell Notes


Why must we forgive (especially in marriage)?

-God commands us to forgive.
Ephesians 4:31-32 “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ forgave you.”

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your heavenly Father forgive your trespasses.”

Forgiveness is a decision I make to obey God.
One definition of marriage is inexhaustible forgiveness.

Drop Your Grudges
-Did you know that the longer you carry a grudge, the heavier it gets?
-On the other hand, when we choose to forgive, we shed a huge burden that simply doesn’t need to weigh us down.
-Holding a grudge is the same as passing a judgment on someone else or your spouse. Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” (This is called the boomerang effect)
-Judging, just like taking vengeance, belongs to God, not us. Romans 12:19 “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord”
-God is the only true Judge.
-People who wrong others are offending God at the same time.
-Lay down your grudges and let go of your desire to see justice done.
-Relieve yourself of the responsibility that actually belongs only to God.

Resolving Conflict Requires Forgiveness
-God insists that we are to be forgivers and in marriage, probably more than any other relationship, presents frequent opportunities for practice.
-We don’t forgive under duress, scratching and screaming in protest. We do it with a gentle spirit and love. (Eph. 4:32)

The Seventy Times Seven Club
-We should take out a joint membership in this club. Matthew 18:21-22 Peter asked, “Lord how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” As you can see inexhaustible forgiveness is required in marriage.

Prayerfully Apply the Oil of Forgiveness
-Mixing forgiveness with the habit of praying together is one way to reduce friction and make marriage run more smoothly.
-How can you remain angry at someone who is praying blessings over you daily and asking forgiveness for wrongs committed?

Forgiveness Does Not...
-Forgiveness does not mean excusing sin.
-Forgiveness does not mean that you will forget the offender’s sin.
-Forgiveness does not require denying or stuffing your feelings.
-Forgiveness does not always lead to instant reconciliation.

Forgiveness Does
-Forgiveness is proactive (you make a decision to obey God)
-Forgiveness embraces the offender. Luke 23:34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.”
-Forgiveness surrenders the right to get even

-Is there anything you need to ask your spouse to forgive you for today?
-Are you holding onto an offense that needs to be released by granting forgiveness towards your spouse?
-Remember we all stumble; we all make mistakes in marriage.
-Do not keep a record of wrongs against your spouse. Wipe your spouse’s record clean through forgiveness, just as your Heavenly Father has done for you.

Colossians 3:13 “Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Psalm 103:12 “…as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us…”

Jeremiah 31:34 “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

Forgiveness Is A Decision I Make
To Obey God.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Mercy and the Chocolate Cake

Tonight at cell group, Mark shared with us a wonderful message about grace and mercy. What an important topic for families! We have many chances everyday to show grace and mercy.

Grace: When God gives us something good that we do not deserve.

Mercy: When God withholds something bad from us that we do deserve.

This reminded me of a chocolate cake episode about a year ago at our home.....

(Originally published March 19, 2008 at In Other Words)

This afternoon I asked the kids what God was saying for today. Meg said something to the effect of "God wants us to enjoy this beautiful day." Israel started to copy Meg, then he stopped short and said, "No, wait." [Pause for listening to God.] "God says that today is a day for mercy."

Wow! I used this word from God as a theme for tonight's cell group. I take what God tells my children seriously.

Today was also Luc's stuffed porcupine's birthday. Yes, believe it or not, I let my children celebrate the birthdays of random toys. It's an excuse to eat cake.

Earlier today we made a cake for Porcupine. I told the children we would eat it and sing to Porcupine after cell group. So, the chocolate dinosaur cake (which is what Porcupine asked for through his translator, Luc) was put away until all the cell members had gone.

After cell group I went into the boys room to assess the damage. (The many children who attend cell group come and go from the meeting to the room, playing. They all make a mess, which I don't mind. They are kids, after all!) I was shocked not just to see toys everywhere (which is normal) but to see clothes from the closet all over the floor. This was particularly upsetting because I had spent at least an hour yesterday organizing the boys' closet and sorting their clothes. All my hard work was undone. Plus, I had clearly told the children not to play in the closet.

I heard myself say, "That's it! Put your pajamas on and go to bed! No cake! You don't deserve it! This is just plain ol' disobedience! I might just throw the cake away!"

(Yes, I really said that.)

Even while saying that the Lord was whispering, "Mercy triumphs over judgement."

I stormed out of the room. I could hear Meg crying. They had so looked forward to that silly cake. They got in their pajamas and cleaned up right away. I was nursing the baby and sort of seething (all the while the Lord was saying, "Mercy. Mercy. Mercy."). Luc came to me and said, "Mommy, please don't throw Porcupine's cake away."

I called the children to me. I said, "Do you deserve the cake?" They all said no with tears in their eyes. I said, "What is mercy?" Below is Israel's answer.

Yes, we had cake. And we sang and gave presents to a stuffed porcupine.


Gana and Daja

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Let us pray for you!

Marriage and parenting can sometimes be tough! We all need prayer sometimes! Please leave us a comment and let us know how to pray for you! Leave us your email address and we'll be happy to follow up with you, if you want. If you wish your request to remain private, let us know and your prayer request will not be published on the blog.