Thursday, February 17, 2011

Mirror, Mirror

(Genesis 3:11-13) 11 And God said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?” 12 Then the man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate.” 13 And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.

When I read this verse, I see where shifting the blame originated from. God gave Adam a chance to confess, but instead he blames God for giving him Eve. Then Eve blames the serpent. We still do this everyday in our marriages. We tend to blame our spouse for our unhappiness. Or we tend to focus on our spouses shortcomings. How easy is it for us to not look at our own issues? It is always easier to focus on the other person, than on ourselves.

I have come to learn, when my wife is not happy, or she is frustrated, or she is short with me, I can usually start by looking at myself. I could very easily get frustrated, or get resentful when my wife is acting crazy. I have a choice, to dwell on her issues, or reflect on me. Every time I ask God to reveal to me on what’s going on, He will usually say, “Look in the mirror and start there.” I don’t really look in a mirror, but I know I need to look honestly, and humbly about my issues, or my lack as a husband and father.

When we allow God to start with us, we allow God to work on our spouse.

This can affect the greatest change in marriage. Remember, a problem (you) cannot fix a problem in your spouse. Imperfection does not fix imperfection. We must allow our perfect Creator to do the fixing. So it is time to grow up in our marriages, to take responsibility for our choices, and to stop blaming our spouse for our issues. It is time to look in the mirror, and start there if you want to start on a path of healing for your marriage.

Mark Soto

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Running with Perseverance

Perseverance is essential for successful living. It allows us to consistently pursue a goal or unwaveringly live out our beliefs, regardless of obstacles or difficulties. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, the apostle Paul compares the pursuit of the Christian life to a footrace. His vivid analogy shows the importance of persevering in the race of faith in order to attain our spiritual reward.
As you teach your children about perseverance, consider these four biblical principles:
Training. Only the foolish attempt to run a marathon without preparation. Simple day-to-day disciplines, such as prayer and studying the Bible, prepare one's faith to endure and help prevent those in the race from being disqualified.
Sustainable pace. Christians sometimes try to accomplish too much too quickly, relying on their own strength rather than on God's. Those runners often find themselves fatigued or burned out. Waiting on the Lord's timing sets an appropriate pace.
Staying the course. In the middle of long races, runners may "hit the wall," a point where they feel physically and emotionally spent. From their perspective, the finish line is far away and quitting is a strong temptation. When Christians continue running, choosing obedience over emotions, they will eventually experience a "second wind," a renewal of God's strength to sustain them.
Strong finish. God uses the challenges of the faith race to develop people to be mature and complete in Him. Just as athletes are crowned with victory wreaths and medals, God rewards those who persevere to the end.
You can use the following activities and discussions to help your child understand and apply these important truths about perseverance.
Key Points
  • Maintaining spiritual disciplines and following God's pace helps our faith to endure.
  • When we feel like giving up, God's strength sustains us.
  • God rewards those who persevere to the end.
Family Memory Verse
Hebrews 10:36
"You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised."
Scripture Study
For a more in-depth study on the purpose of family, read these Bible verses:
  • Romans 5:3-4
  • 2 Timothy 4:7-8
  • Hebrews 10:32-36
  • Hebrews 12:1-3
  • James 1:2-4
Copyright © 2010 by Rick Cole. Used by permission.

Preschool Activity
School-Age Activity
Tween Activity
Time With Your Teen

God's Purposes for Marriage

Understanding God’s design gives your marriage a sense of direction and stability.
Dennis Rainey

While in Southern California on a business trip, I stopped for a red light early one morning. Waiting at the intersection, I noticed a construction crew already busy renovating an old restaurant. Like ants, the carpenters and other workers were scrambling through the building, and almost every one of them possessed the same thing: blueprints. I saw blueprints carried under arms, rolled out on window ledges, and pointed at excitedly.

The light turned green and I sped away, but the scene lingered in my memory, reminding me of a simple truth: You don’t build or renovate a structure without blueprints. Or if you do, how will that building turn out?

Unfortunately, too many couples have not compared notes on their blueprints for marriage. Like those construction workers, every husband and every wife has a set of prints, but I’ve seen too many relationships where his and hers don’t match—their expectations and purposes differ. If you think this might be true in your marriage, how do you get on the same page in your relationship and build your “house” from identical plans?

The only answer I know is to put you in touch with the Architect, the original Designer, the One who has recorded His blueprints for marriage in Scripture. As you journey through marriage together, you want to grow in your love for each other, to experience life fully, and to be truly one. But what seemed so effortless as an engaged couple may now be an elusive dream. That’s why you need to understand God’s blueprints—His purposes for marriage.

These three purposes will give your marriage a sense of direction, internal stability, and the stamp of God’s design. They will lift your marriage above the everyday, run-of-the-mill relationship and place it on a high and lofty spiritual plane.

Purpose One: Mirror God’s image. After God created the earth and the animals, He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth. The account continues, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

God’s first purpose for creating man and woman and joining them in marriage was to mirror His image on planet earth. Center your attention on those words, mirror His image. The Hebrew word for “mirror” means to reflect God, to magnify, exalt, and glorify Him. Your marriage should reflect God’s image to a world that desperately needs to see who He is. Because we’re created in the image of God, people who wouldn’t otherwise know what God is like should be able to look at us and get a glimpse.

Purpose Two: Complete each other and experience companionship. Scripture clearly outlines a second purpose for marriage: to mutually complete each other. That’s why God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” (Genesis 2:18).

Adam felt isolated in the Garden, and so God created woman to eliminate his aloneness. Writing to the first-century church in Corinth, Paul echoed the teachings in Genesis 2 when he asserted, “However, in the Lord, neither is woman independent of man, nor is man independent of woman” (1 Corinthians 11:11).

I was convinced that Barbara was “the one,” because I sensed that she could complete me as well as be a wonderful companion. Now, many years later, I really understand how much I need her. The two of us are like a computer and software. Standing alone, the computer and software are impressive, but combined as a team, they can accomplish so much more! And that’s exactly what God had in mind when He performed the first marriage with an original groom and bride named Adam and Eve.

You need each other. You recognize that now. But if you build your marriage according to God’s blueprints, as the years go by, you will really appreciate the genius of how God has custom-made your mate for you.

Purpose Three: Multiply a godly legacy. A line of godly descendants—your children—will carry a reflection of God’s character to the next generation. Your plans for children may still be in the future, but if He gives you a child, you will be in for an amazing adventure.

God’s original plan called for the home to be a sort of greenhouse—a nurturing place where children grow up to learn character, values, and integrity. Too many couples today seem to be raising their children without a sense of mission and direction. They aren’t imparting to them the importance of leaving a spiritual legacy of changed lives. They aren’t evaluating their lives in light of the Great Commission of Matthew 28:18-20, where Christ commands us to preach the gospel to all nations.

One of your assignments is to impart a sense of destiny, a spiritual mission, to your children. Your responsibility as a couple is to make your home a place where your children learn what it means to love and obey God. Your home should be a training center to equip your children to look at the needs of people and the world through the eyes of Jesus Christ. If children do not embrace this spiritual mission as they grow up, they may live their entire lives without experiencing the privilege of God using them in a significant way.

Your marriage is far more important than you may have ever imagined because it affects God’s reputation on this planet. That’s why it’s essential for you to set Jesus Christ apart as the Builder of your home.

Adapted by permission from Starting Your Marriage Right, by Dennis and Barbara Rainey, Thomas Nelson Publisher, 2000.

Dennis Rainey is president of FamilyLife.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Two Shall Become.....Us.

As the Scriptures say,
"A man leaves his father and mother
and is joined to his wife,
and the two are united into one." 
Ephesians 5:31

And the two shall become Us.