The Deserts of Marriage

October 24, 2014

The Deserts of Marriage

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. Their hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savior. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blessings,
#kent

What God does to us or for us?

Job 42:1-6
Then Job replied to the LORD : 2 “I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted.
3 You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my counsel without knowledge?’ Surely I spoke of things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. 4 “You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak; I will question you, and you shall answer me.’ 5 My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.”

How many of us have gone through times in our lives when we have experienced such pain, sorrow or disappointment at circumstances that have come upon us or happened to us? We question, “God where are you, where were you and why did you let this happen to me”? There are those of us who have gotten angry, offended and hurt because we felt that the Lord let us down and He didn’t meet our expectations in the ways that we thought He should have. Perhaps God would ask us, as He did Job, ‘Who is this that obscures council without knowledge?’ God is the Magnificent One that created the Universe, the earth and all of the mysteries and wonders contained therein. Would we be so bold as to compare our wisdom and understanding with His? If what God says in Romans 8:28 is true, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified,” then we must believe that God is working for our good. Jesus never makes the promise to deliver us from tribulation. In fact, He says just the opposite, “…In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). To the natural mind, life often isn’t fair and it doesn’t always make sense. It is in these times that we must rely upon our faith to bridge the gap between our understanding and God’s plan. Often what we thought was the enemy coming against us, in retrospect, we see the hand of God was working through what seemed to be a negative circumstance to bring us into God’s plan and higher will for our lives. It serves to stretch us and takes us to places we would never go on our own.
Let us not be so foolish as to attempt to pass judgement upon God for allowing things to happen to us. His ways are so much higher than our ways and His thoughts are so much higher than our thoughts. Job thought He had a pretty good handle on understanding God till His world and theology got turned upside down. The one thing that Job never lost was faith and trust in the Lord. I think that with many of us it will be as it was with Job when he said, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you. 6 Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes.” When we really come into the revelation and presence of God and all that He is we will repent that we ever questioned, doubted or spoke negative of Him.
God is not doing things to us; He is doing things for us. Our understanding may not comprehend it, but our trust has to receive it and know that God’s nature is to work in our behalf. Even when that means we are crushed in the process, it is because He does love us and sees the end from the beginning. We see in terms of time and earthly values. God sees in eternity and kingdom values. God values you. Even when you don’t understand His hand, trust His heart. God is for you, trust Him and rest in His wisdom, love and council.

Blessings,
kent

The Deserts of Marriage

November 4, 2013

The Deserts of Marriage

1 John 4:11
Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

Tears once more roll down the streambeds of her cheeks. Her heart is broken, discouraged, without hope, as once again she a has surveyed the landscape of her marriage only to see what appears to be but a desolate desert with the only moisture being that of her brokenhearted tears. Between the sobs and heartbreaks she only sees the ruins of what have been the years of her youth, the investment of her life, feelings and emotions. Dispersed in the pain are the feelings of anger and resentment that are like the cactus and thorns that are among the few things that now grow in this desert that is called a marriage.
Somewhere, in another room, another place or perhaps a bar, there is a man sitting quietly with his head hung down and a lump in his throat. Is this finally the end of the line? Has our love totally shriveled up and died? Has my insensitivity and inability to meet her needs put the final nail in the coffin of our marriage? Have my selfishness, my insensitivity and her continual nagging and criticism brought the closing act to our marriage?
Both lost in their thoughts and hurts think back to when they first met, their younger days of romance and early marriage. How different it was then. It was like the Garden of Eden. They were so in love. They never wanted to be apart. They thought about each other constantly and there was hardly a time when either of them could do wrong in the other’s sight. Things were so perfect. They dreamed together, they talked of what the future would hold for them and what they might accomplish together. There hearts were swollen full of love and joy. They had found the perfect mate, the one that would fulfill all their dreams, expectations and fantasies. She would be the perfect submissive wife. She would live to meet and fulfill all of his needs. She would cook and sew, raise the kids, make the place a lovely home, always continue to be cheerful, joyful and full of love. She would be there when ever he needed her to meet his every need as his companion, friend and lover.
She likewise had the picture in her mind that he would always be there to share his heart with her, to spend lots of time communicating and talking. He would always be fun, exciting and making her laugh. He would often show up at the door with gifts and surprises, take her to unexpected places and constantly sweep her off of her feet with romantic ways. He would be her security, her tower of strength. He would provide for all the desires of her heart and fulfill all the dreams she had as girl. He would become rich, but still have bountiful quantities of time to spend with her.
As our honeymoons fade into the reality of everyday life we start to gain a greater and greater revelation of shortcomings of this one that we married. Many times our enchanted dreams of all that our marriage would be begin to slip into disillusionment as this person of our dreams begins to become more of the nightmare of disappointment to us. That person that could do no wrong, slowly becomes that person that can do no right. We begin to verbalize these complaints in hopes of changing our spouse’s behavior. On the other hand they are seeing all the places that we disappoint them and fail to meet their expectations. Most often a lot of shouting gets done, a lot of emotion gets expressed, but the results are far less than we hoped for because our alienation from one another only deepens and our intimacy grows less and less. We find ourselves dividing from the oneness we once shared into two emotionally separated islands dwelling under one roof. Hurt, resentment and anger continue to grow into walls of division, until we find ourselves at the place where this couple now stands, at the door of separation and divorce.
Jesus said in John 15:12-13, “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Who is a closer friend than our spouse has been. Are we failing to keep the commandment of Christ when we fail to truly love one another? There may be a hundred reasons why they are unlovely and unlovable to you, but we have to factor in who we are in Christ Jesus. Did we have to earn our love from Him? Did He wait till we were good enough and met His expectations before He came and gave His life for us? Romans 5:8 says, “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” When we see our human love in the light of His agape love, we see how shallow and empty it can be. The greatest problem for all of us in our marriages is our own selfishness. At the center of all our complaints is “my need isn’t being met.” Often one of the greatest problems for our disillusionment with our spouse is that we may have entered into marriage expecting them to meet areas of need in us that only Christ can meet. They are never going to be able to meet those needs in you. They are not a replacement for your intimate relationship with your Savoir. We need to be complete and secure in our Lord before we ever enter into a relationship with a spouse, because He is your source of true and greater love. He is the one you can turn too, not only when your spouse fails to meet your needs, but also when you fail to meet theirs. We should enter into marriage and keep the perspective that I married that person to make them happy, marriage is not about me, it is about them.
When we gave ourselves in marriage we pledged the most important part of ourselves to one another, our hearts. It is to the shame of many of us that we have become very careless with that precious commodity that was entrusted into our care. Often we have dropped it, stepped on it, abused and misused it. We have not tenderly loved, protected and cherished it like we promised to do. If we are to keep Christ’s commandment of love, even to the one we promised to love, it can only truly be revealed as we abide in His unselfish love. If our commitment could be again to always submit ourselves to one another in unselfish love. Can we have enough of the unselfish love of God present in us that we would make it a priority to consider and minister to our spouse before ourselves? Can we obey the Word of God to release the offenses, the hurts and the unforgiveness that have become the walls of separation between us? If we can’t truly exercise and practice the love of God in our homes, how will we succeed in demonstrating it to the world?
Don’t lose your hope. Don’t give up or give in, there is a love that conquers even death and it can bring life back into your marriage. Let us come together and commit our hearts as one before Him who is our reconciliation. What is impossible for man is not impossible with God. When we become reconciled to God’s will and love for our lives with each other we will find again the joy and fulfillment that we had lost. Streams will come again into the deserts of our relationships, as the love of Christ is truly manifested in our hearts and lives. God hates divorce, but He has made a way for us to experience and find more abundant life in our marriages, if we are willing to become one in Him and the unselfish nature of His love.
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.” Think of the natural and spiritual strength that you have, as the two of you are one in Christ.

Blessings,
kent

The Labor of Love

September 3, 2013

The Labor of Love

Galatians 4:19
My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

A woman and prospective mother endures all of the discomforts and demands of pregnancy for the joy and the hope that she carries within her. Then comes the day of the birthing, which without modern medicine is on the extreme of pain, discomfort and tremendous laboring. Yet she will endure all of that, not only once, but often, again and again for the joy of the life that it brings forth. Out of all that pain, discomfort and labor a miracle is brought forth. The miracle of a newborn life, formed in the image of its maker and its parents. This was Paul’s analogy in describing what it was to Him to birth Christ in others. It wasn’t just about telling them about Jesus and having them come to the altar and pray the sinner’s prayer. That may have been where it began, but certainly not where it ended. That was only the conception. The process of Christ’s life being formed in these former Gentiles and Jews was a long process of intense prayer and intercession, teaching and counseling, living before them the example of Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit, forming the likeness of Christ in them. Far too often, after Paul had poured out His heart and soul in love and instruction to these new converts to Christ, he would experience the heartbreak of them turning aside to another doctrine, or becoming caught up again in legalism or allowing sin to come again and pervert the purity of their faith. No one knows like a parent, the heartbreak you feel when your child turns away from the path of righteousness and understanding that you have laid before him or her. Slowly, patiently, repetitiously you taught your children from infancy, through childhood, puberty and into adulthood. You sought to instill your belief system and core values into them. All that you valued and hold dear, you tried to impart to them. You continually prayed for them and when they were younger you prayed with them to help them establish a relationship with their God and yours.
Oh, the sting and the heartbreak you felt if at some point they rejected your values, the truths you held dear, and made choices in another direction. You may not only have prayed for them, but pleaded with them and reasoned with them to help them to see and repent from the error of their ways.
This principle is true when discipling and pouring out your life so that Christ might be formed in others. Often it is those ones that so loved you and would have done anything for you that now take on a different spirit. Now they despise and reject you because of the truth you are trying to speak into them. In Galatians 4:16 Paul says, “Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth?” Often truth is no longer our friend, or the messenger who bears it, when it goes in the face of what we want to believe and the direction we want to go. As rebellious and as otherwise directed as some may become, the love of God compels the travail of love that seeks to love them and bring them back into the truth and right fellowship of who they are in Christ. It does not cease its travail until again Christ is formed in them.
We can all thank God for parents, teachers, pastors, mentors, friends and those ones God has placed in our lives to help establish and form Christ in us. Many of us can look back at times we may have erred or lost our way and yet these ones the Lord set in our lives did not forsake us, or reject us. They prayed for us, they may have tried to counsel with and speak the truth into our lives, but they continued to love us even when we rejected and were perhaps hateful with them. They continued to demonstrate the tenacious love of God for us that ‘it is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance’ (2 Peter 3:9).
Someone has labored over your life today so that Christ might be formed in you. Someone is caring and praying for you even in those times you may have slipped back or turned another direction. It is the Spirit of Christ in us that causes us to travail as Paul did. Sometimes the source of deeper inner groanings and utterances are birthed of the Spirit and not in the understanding of man. God’s desire for each one of us is not just for us to have a religious understanding of who God is. It is that the revelation of “Christ in you” is formed, birthed and established in you so that we would no longer live and function out of natural understanding and desire, but out of the mind, will, love and heart of the Christ that indwells us and of whose nature we now are. We all are the labor of His love.

Blessings,
kent

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