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Archive for June, 2009

I’m performing a wedding on Saturday, so I thought I would share a bit of a “marriage refresher” to you, the reader. 

One of the great things about wedding ceremonies (if the minister does it right) is that they stir married couples in the congregation to do a reassessment: how am I doing in this marriage?

The theme that I’m focusing on this Saturday is marriage as a sacred covenant.  Here are a few of the things that I’m going to discuss; I pray that the Lord use these words to refresh your marriage!

So let’s think of marriage in this way: marriage is His gift to us.  And I think we all know what we’re supposed to do with highly treasured gifts, don’t we?  We take great care of those gifts

And the giver of this gift of marriage – for our benefit – also has every principle and resource available to us in great abundance to have a successful marriage!

Maureen and I have experienced the abundance of those principles and resources for 26 years now and we continue to be amazed at God’s power to sustain and cause a marriage to flourish – as long as we do our part

It’s good to say it and it’s good to hear it: marriage is a covenant!  And I can do one better than that: it is a sacred covenant.  Now, what is a covenant?  What is a sacred covenant? 

It’s sad to say that that word “covenant” is almost a foreign word in our culture today, isn’t it?  But for many hundreds of years it wasn’t. 

A covenant is a solemn, unbreakable agreement made between two parties to benefit each other.  Now the supreme model for a covenant is God: when He enters into a relationship with a person, He does so to commit Himself entirely to that person for his or her blessing and He doesn’t break that covenant.

So we find that a covenant is a good thing, isn’t it?  But our society has turned the idea of covenant into contracts – legal obligations that have loopholes that can be broken and wedding contracts with pre-nuptial agreements! 

Where’s the faith and commitment in that?

The word “sacred” is dedicated or set apart; it also is devoted exclusively to one service or use. 

Let’s put the two meanings together and I think we can really get a clear idea of what this is all about: a sacred marriage covenant is a marriage that is dedicated and set apart from ordinary things so that you can enjoy being in a life-long commitment to each other, to benefit each other.

Don’t you think that’s a pretty powerful way of looking at a marriage?

And the thing that keeps that covenant alive and fresh is the practice of giving to each other: 

The apostle Paul, quoting Jesus, said it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35).

And in one of the greatest secrets of life, Jesus Himself said this in Luke 6:38: “Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity” (The Message Translation).

We tend to complicate things in life, don’t we?  We can complicate basic principles that work by straying from them.  And one of the most important principles in life is the giving of our time – our best time – to the ones we love.

When I look back on my own 26 years of marriage, what are the things that stand out?  What are the most valuable things of our marriage?  The giving of quality time!

It really isn’t complicated.  I give by listening; Maureen gives by listening.  In a marriage we give by putting the other’s need or needs ahead of our own.  We give by considering our spouse as more important than ourselves.

These are all, time-honored biblical principles that come right out of the NT and we live them out simply, we find all over again that God’s word works!

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I just finished reading Jeremiah 8 in my quiet time and am wondering: in the midst of our economic crisis, I’m hearing next to nothing from the Church about repentance on our behalf for our sins and for those of the nation as well.

A careful reading of the OT Prophets makes it quite clear that when God is displeased with a nation and seeks to discipline or judge it (so that it will repent and do what is right in His sight), He begins with their economy.

Clearly, He is dealing with us in this regard, yet I hear very little from Christians — especially leaders — calling us to repentance.

I am doing this now: let us repent for all of the sins that the Holy Spirit reveals to us — both as individuals, as a Church and as a nation.

And let us continually cry out to Him to change the hearts of people in our country from top to bottom, bending such hearts to do what is pleasing in His sight — lest things quickly become worse!

A careful reading of Jer. 8 make it abundantly clear that God prefers to give the nation grace — not judgment (as is always the case with Him). But the call to repent of sinful ways goes out as the necessary condition for forgiveness and restoration.

Father, we do ask You to forgive all of us of our sins against You and against one another.

We have not taken You and Your Word seriously; we are too preoccupied with what concerns us and not with what concerns You.

We have become too worldly and we have lost Your heart. Turn the hearts of Your people and those who do not yet know You in our country to hate sin and love righteousness.

Bring a sense of shame to us again and bring it openly. Turn hard hearts away from sin and back to You and come and restore us and heal our land, our economy, our relationships and let us become once again a nation that can truly say, “In God We Trust,” in Jesus’ name, amen.

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