Marriage: No Regrets

31 Oct

There are some marriage choices that definitely lead to the lament: “I wish I hadn’t done that.” But everyone has some ideas how to avoid regret even the humorists!ChooseWhatYouWantMarriageToBecome

Want to please your wife?

Bring her chocolate. Hug her in the kitchen. Surprise her with a gift card to a jewelry store. Encourage her talents. Compliment her cooking (or, if she doesn’t cook, her choice of a good restaurant). Leave a love note on her pillow. Shop with her – yes, shop with her! Send her flowers for no reason at all. Hold her hand at the mall. Etc. … etc. … etc.

Want to please your husband?

Make happy-hubby choices about three things he loves: Sex, Food and Entertainment.

Isn’t it obvious how different men and women can be? We’re just wired differently. What’s not so apparent is how to enjoy those differences.

One thing I’m sure of:  our choices toward our spouses can affect the relationship. (Note: This post is specifically for married couples, but some principles apply to any relationship.)

Life is so short … and so are our marriages. Even if we celebrate 50, 60 or more years together, the minutes of marriage tick  away so quickly. We need to choose what we want our marriage to become.

I made some “priority choices” early on regarding my marriage, so I don’t have a lot of regret. You may have made similar choices.

Here are my priority choices:

1) The Priorities of Oneness and Mission.

My husband and I are one flesh (Mark 10:8; Ephesians 5:31); there is no room for others-intimacy in our relationship. (Not even from the TV or movie screen!) We want to keep our marriage pure in our “oneness.”

Whether a couple has a formal mission statement for their marriage or just some clear, specific guidelines, this is so important. For example, my husband and I decided before marriage to be sure Jesus is at the center of our home. And the wonderful thing is, the closer we’ve gotten to Jesus as individuals, the closer we’ve been drawn to each other.

2) The Priorities of Love and Forgiveness.

Love makes any relationship blossom. Love in marriage (Colossians 3:18-19; John 13:34) includes selflessness, sacrifice and a servant’s heart as well as consistent, joyful sexual love (Proverbs 5:18-19).

And couples should learn to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me” early in their relationship (Ephesians 4:32). Every husband and wife learns to adapt to each other’s quirks, but realistically, partners will fail each other many times. Kindness and forgiveness are essential, like oil keeping the relationship running smoothly.

3) The Priorities of Acceptance and Respect.

Our husbands have so many critics in the midst of competition and comparisons in the workplace. I want to be sure I’m always my husband’s best cheerleader (1 Thessalonians 5:11), building him up not tearing him down (nagging, complaining, manipulating, etc.)

Respect should be mutual, but it is especially important for the wife to respect her husband (Ephesians 5:33). Just as we may not appreciate a policeman’s attitude but we respect his authority; the wife is to respect the husband’s position as the head of the home.

4) The Priorities of Time and Focus.

In this busy world, women tend to spread themselves too thin, and sometimes, it’s the husband who gets left out. I always tried to remember that someday my children would be grown and leaving the nest but “Papa Bird” would still be around. All along the way, I cultivated our relationship. I didn’t want to end up a stranger to him.

Have you ever been in the same room with your spouse, and you forget he’s there? We can get so busy with “our stuff,” but doesn’t it make sense that the one we love deserves our focus at least occasionally? Focus also includes learning what makes your husband “tick” so you can initiate conversations where he’ll want to participate!

5) The Priorities of Joy and Contentment.

A wife has the joy of creating a “happy haven” for herself and her family. Some say the “Proverbs 31 Woman” (31:10-31) is an out of this world creature no one on earth can live like her. I say she’s a good starting point! God will show us exactly what is needed to make our particular home a refuge and place of joy for our family. (It might look different, woman to woman!)

When fires swept through Southern California a few years back, one of the families in our church lost everything. But when the ashes lay on the ground, this husband and wife still had each other and their strong faith in Christ. If you lose everything, what do you still have? All we really need is food and clothing – everything else is “fluff” (Matthew 6:31-33). The Bible instructs us, “be content with such things as you have” (Hebrews 13:5).

We can train ourselves to be content (even grateful) in any circumstance (Philippians 4:11-13). My husband and I have shared our love and life in a beautiful brick home we owned … and a borrowed trailer behind a church gym … and on the road living in others’ homes. Marriage isn’t about location and “stuff;” it’s about love and selflessness.

Don’t misunderstand. Our marriage isn’t perfect. No one’s is perfect. But we will all have far fewer regrets if we have some priority choices for marriage and home.

What priorities have helped you create your marriage? What priorities could you add that might cut back on future regrets?

- Dawn

Graphic adapted, Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Power Outage

25 Oct

Humorous stories about computer use abound:PowerSource

  • Someone who held a document up to the computer screen, thinking the monitor would somehow scan and fax it.
  • Someone using their CD-ROM drive as a cup holder.
  • Someone frustrated when unable to find the “any” key (as in “strike any key”).
  • Someone picking up the mouse, pointing it at the computer screen and clicking it, as if it were a remote control.

But the story (could it be true?) of the woman who experienced trouble with WordPerfect tops it all. The woman, talking to a service rep in a long conversation, apparently forgot that even a computer needs power in a power outage. He reportedly advised her to pack up her computer and ship it back because, given her cluelessness, she’d never understand anything about a computer anyway!

Unfortunately, power outages don’t give us warnings. They just happen at the most inopportune times.

I stayed at my son’s house in July while our home was being tented for termites, and my son and his family were on vacation. We joked that “Hotel Wilson” was nicer than any hotel we knew, with so many amenities.

Wanting to save them some money, I decided to plug in a floor fan instead of running the air conditioner. Right after I plugged in the fan, the fuse blew.

“Oh, no! No power!”

It turned out the power went out in the entire housing complex right at that very moment. I told people I did it with my little fan.

Because I was dead in the water for most of the things I wanted to do that required electricity, I sat down to write a blog post with paper and pen.

I thought back to times I’ve tried to do things in my own power. The results aren’t usually as dramatic as blowing a fuse, but they can be just as life altering. Someone asked me recently, “Do you have any regrets at this point in life?”

Some of my biggest regrets are the times – far too many to count – I did things in my own power, my own flesh, instead of relying on the power of God.

I believe these are some of Christians’ works that will burn up (poof) at the Bema Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). (Note: Our works do not determine our salvation in Christ; they are our service to Him – Ephesians 2:9-10.) Burned up will be not only things done for the wrong motives or for our own glory, but also those works done in the power of the flesh– in other words, when we are plugged into our own power and not the power of God.

What does plugging into our own power look like?

1. Self-Centeredness. It tries to please self, not God, even though we may say we’re living for the Lord. (Galatians 1:10; Ephesians 5:8-10).

2. Foolishness. When we depend on our own wisdom, we often make foolish choices. We don’t have Spirit-led discernment (1 Corinthians 2:14).

3. Bondage. The power of the flesh leaves us enslaved to and serving ourselves.  Galatians 5:1 says, “… with freedom did Christ set us free.” Why do we run back to living in the flesh; it will only reap “corruption” (Galatians 6:8).

4. Weariness. We get overly tired when we are operating in our own power (vs. the strength we get in Christ, Philippians 4:13). (It’s like an unplugged laptop that drains the battery until the power is gone. How much better to plug into God’s unfailing power plant!)

5. Faithlessness. This is self-trust rather than trusting in God. In Matthew 13:58, Jesus did not do many miracles of power because of the people’s lack of faith.

6. Self-sufficiency. We think we can do everything through sheer willpower, but our sufficiency is truly in God (2 Corinthians 3:5).

7. Carnality. We have carnal appetites and responses; we act more like spoiled children than mature Christian adults (1 Corinthians 3:1-3).

8. Temporary fruit. Yes, we can accomplish many things, but lasting fruit comes when we trust and rest in (abide in) Christ (John 15:4-5, 8).

9. Weakened relationships. Our love, forgiveness and other godly responses often fail; we need a resource outside ourselves (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a; Romans 5:5; John 13:34-35).

Although we may think we are achieving great things in our own power, we are only fooling ourselves. As Stephen L Pogue says, “Trying to live the Christian life on your own efforts is as futile as trying to get around town by pushing your car.”

Paul says, “Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). It’s just plain foolish to trust in our own power, but how often it’s our fall-back position. We need to remember to plug in to the power source that will never fail – God in us through the Holy Spirit. When we are plugged into His inexhaustible resources, we will be dynamic, vigorous, and effective.

Jesus said we would receive God’s power (John 16:7; Acts 1:8). Later, Paul said, “I pray that you will begin to understand how incredibly great His power is to help those who believe in Him” and “Your strength must come from the mighty power of God in you”(Ephesians 1:19; 6:10 TLB). This is Jesus’ resurrection power alive in us (Galatians 2:20).

Remember: If we are not plugged in to the right power source, we can expect power outages.

How about you? Are you plugging into your own power, or the all-powerful creator God?

 – Dawn

 

 

Living Up to Who We Are

4 Oct

I smile when I read many of the “Keep Calm” items around the Internet that have sprung out of the original 1939 British KeepCalmAndMakeAKeepCalmPosterGovernment motivational poster, “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

I’ve seen “Keep Calm and Call Batman” … “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes” … “Keep Calm and Eat Chocolate” … “Keep Calm and Make Bacon Pancakes” … “Keep Calm and Adopt a Great Dane.” You get the idea.

But I laughed out loud when I read that the British reportedly have a REPUTATION for keeping calm even when there is no crisis! Having visited with many in the UK, I know this is true.

I’ve been thinking about that word, “reputation.”

Preacher and evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “If I take care of my character, my reputation will take care of me.”He had the right focus!

But then I thought about all the times I meant to do right and didn’t. Automaker Henry Ford said, “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.”

Isn’t that the truth?

Our reputation is built (or torn down) choice by choice. With every decision, our character is taking shape … and then, our reputation.

God has already given Christians a framework for godly character. Not only that, He has invested in our lives through His Son, Jesus. Everything that we need to become holy is tied up in our salvation, forgiveness, righteousness and eternal life in Christ. God calls us to live up to who we are in Jesus:

“Only let us hold true to what we have attained” (Philippians 3:16, ESV). The Living Bible says it this way: “… fully obey the truth you have.”

The truth is, we are: redeemed and forgiven (Colossians 1:13-14), alive in Christ (Ephesians 2:5), washed and sanctified (1 Corinthians 6:11), justified and made righteous (Romans 5:1), reconciled to God (Colossians 1:22), a child of light (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5) and so much more!

We are to make the choices every day to live in the truth of who we are – to make the choices to grow more like Christ.

Dr. Dirk Van Proyen, teaching my Sunday school class recently, spoke of the Judgement (Bema) Seat (2 Corinthians 5:10) where Christians will give account of their works for Christ after salvation (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) – not to earn salvation with works (Ephesians 2:8-9). He noted the criteria for that judgment of works:  the faithful fulfilling of our stewardship responsibilities, coupled with the motives and intent of our hearts as we ministered.

Anything that is not found to be of value will be burned up (poof!); but what remains will result in praise from God — the “well done” we so desire.

Our reputations will be very clear on Judgment Day, whether they were genuinely for God, or full of puffed-up pride.

I came home from church with many sober thoughts. If Jesus is coming soon and bringing His reward with Him (and the scriptures tell us that is so, Revelation 22:12), then I’d better be thinking more seriously about that day. I want to “press on” to live in resurrection power (Philippians 3:11-12)

I wrote three file cards and put them in places around my home to remind me of some decisions I made that day.

GodsGloryWayPower

If I want to live to the “praise of His glory” (Ephesians 1:15) and ultimately receive praise from Him for faithful service, I need to remember the three things I wrote down. I want to do all for God’s glory, in God’s way (with holiness, integrity and faithfulness) and by God’s power (not through the “flesh,” Romans 7:18, but by the Holy Spirit, John 14:16-17; Romans 8:11; Acts 1:8a).

Are those your goals too? Can that focus help you live up to who you are in Christ?

- Dawn

 

 

 

 

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